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Ash And Washy Get Into The Right-Hand Finger Spinner Fray

The ICC Cricket World is just a fortnight away and most of the teams are girding up its loins to compete hard in conditions that are most likely to show bias to the spinners. Surprisingly though India will be going into the multi-nation event with two finger spinners of the left arm variety and one of the Chinaman — leg spin and googly. A left quadriceps tear to the conventional left-arm spinner, Axar Patel may appear to have kept the door ajar for a right-hand finger spinner to find his way into the team that will be confirmed on September 28, a day after India plays its third and last one day international against Australia. The two contenders are Ravichandran Ashwin who has entered his 38th year but brings in a 113-match experience with 151 wickets at an economy rate of 4.94 an over. He played two matches of the 2011 World Cup that India won and eight matches of the 2015 World Cup. The veteran offy has played only two ODIs in the last six years, missing 122 matches. The second option is Washington Sundar who will be 24 in 13 days; he has played 17 ODIs and has taken 16 wickets. The final call may be taken by skipper Rohit Sharma. The three-match series against Australia will guide Sharma to make a choice should Patel be declared not fit for a competition that will be tough as it comes.
Arjuna Ranatunga

Arjuna Ranatunga Questions Integrity In The Governance Of Cricket

In a leafy Colombo suburb on Friday morning an animated Arjuna Ranatunga dressed in a Sri Lankan-style sarong and Deklo Technology T-shirt talked about Sri Lankan cricket with zeal. The captain of the 1996 World Cup-winning Sri Lankan team — a courageous individual who backed Muthiah Muralitharan to the hilt and who never pulled his punches back on matters — did not have anything tolerable to say about the way the game is administered in his country, and by the International Cricket Council. “I have raised questions on sports, in particular about cricket, a hundred times in the parliament,” says Ranatunga, the 59-year-old who underwent corrective surgery to treat a troubling hernia and shed his heavyweight status. Ranatunga was a member of the parliament and a minister till 2019 and as he says at present he is in the vanguard of a national movement. The daredevil captain who named Aravinda de Silva as the all-time best cricketer, says he does not like the idea of consultants and advisors because they do not have any responsibility.  He is startled by the decision of the Asian Cricket Council to provide a reserve day for the India-Pakistan match and surprised by the silence of the other cricket boards in the ACC. He says it’s the responsibility of the ICC to protect cricket and that more cricketers should be involved in the governance of the sport.
KL virat yadv


Rahul, Virat And Kuldeep Rock & Roll Against Pakistan

There was so much joy in the end after the rock and roll display by Virat Kohli and KL Rahul and thereafter by the Chinaman practitioner Kuldeep Yadav with the ball that cut Pakistan to size in the Asia Cup match at Colombo on Monday (Sept 11). India trounced Pakistan by 228 runs. India’s 27th win against Pakistan by runs. It was also India’s fourth win against Pakistan starting from the Asia Cup in Dubai five years ago. The big win at the rain-hit Premadasa Stadium helped Rohit Sharma to maintain a clean slate against Pakistan: 3 wins out of 3. It was not merely the emphatic victory, it was the way India’s batters went about repelling the rival team’s pace pack that had troubled India in Twenty20 internationals in recent times. Left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi had become sort of a bête noire, but for two days in a row, India’s top 4 sent him packing with Sharma flicking him for a first over 6.  Aspersions were cast on Rahul’s selection of Rahul for the Asia Cup and the ICC Cricket World Cup after he had gone down in an IPL match on May 1 and his thigh needed to be set right. An eleventh-hour inclusion after Shreyas Iyer complained of a back spasm, Rahul deployed his multi-faceted skills with the bat to stage a comeback with a bang, as they say; with a score of 111 not out!

KL Rahul Vs Ishan Kishan, The Debate Is On!

With every passing day, the debate continues around KL Rahul’s selection for the Asia Cup and ICC Cricket World Cup. The Indian team, especially its main players believe that a player like Rahul cannot be dispensed with easily with the World Cup on home soil scheduled from October 5. Rahul who is accustomed to facing the shining hard ball will bear the burden at No5 with skipper Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill set to open the innings. With Rahul being given extra time to recover from the thigh-related injury, and set to walk into the team, the question that begs to be asked is: Will Ishan Kishan be given the short shrift? The flashy and flamboyant lefty hammered a double century against Bangladesh a few months ago, and recently he batted his way to a rousing 82 off 81 balls at No 5. Sharma hinted that there is a possibility of both getting the nod to be picked in the eleven. Kishan has been groomed to fill the vacancy caused by the absence of Rishabh Pant and everything pointed to the young fellow getting a chance to display his talent on the big stage. Rahul has been out of action since May 1 and he is being prepared for the India-Pakistan Super 4 round-robin league match on Sunday. He will be anxious on two counts — one is to be fit right through the match, and the second is to get runs!
Najam jay

Is India Afraid To Play Pakistan And Lose, Asks Najam Sethi

Even as six teams are competing for the Asia Cup a forerunner to the ICC Cricket World Cup, Najam Sethi, a journalist who has donned the chairman’s hat of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) a number of times and who has served under Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif used his X handle to take pot shots at the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) for mishandling the tournament. He vented his agony soon after the second half of the India-Pakistan match was washed off in Pallekele, Sri Lanka. The sauve Sethi slammed the ACC for not showing any interest in scheduling the matches in Pakistan or the United Arab Emirates. Pakistan was the only host of the Asia Cup, but became the co-host with Sri Lanka once BCCI decided that it will not send its team to Pakistan. What perhaps got Sethi’s goat was the Pakistan batsmen not getting a chance to chase India’s total of 266. Then after almost two hours of play, it was lost due to rain. Sethi went on an overdrive giving full details of the dialogue between the ACC president Jay Shah and himself. The matter has turned into a full blown tiff with Shah issuing a rejoinder explaining why the Asia Cup could not be fully played in Pakistan or the UAE. The Super 4 matches will be played at the rain-ravaged Colombo as scheduled, And Sethi has asked “Is India afraid of losing to Pakistan?’’
BCCI Viacom 18

Viacom18 Shows Commitment To Home Internationals

The BCCI global media rights for television and digital streaming rights have fetched Rs 5963 crore for the five-year cycle — September 2023 to March 2028. The new entrant in cricket broadcasting, Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd, has left others by the wayside and it will deploy its television channel Sports18 and digital platform Jio Cinema to broadcast the bilateral series home internationals. The Reliance Industries backed Viacom18 and made a big splash when it acquired the digital rights of the 2023-2027 IPL cycle and the full media rights of the Women’s Premier League. However, it has demonstrated a commitment to be the sole owner of the BCCI’s domestic bilateral series rights. There is a lot of glamour around the IPL, but the BCCI media rights represent the essence of cricket where the International Cricket Council’s full members play Test matches that are part of the World Test Championship and also the one-day internationals and Twenty20 internationals. These matches are the pith of the home international season and they attract millions of eyeballs Viacom18 has gone out of the way to acquire the rights for a sum that has given immense satisfaction to the BCCI. Viacom18 has made the commitment knowing that the home internationals will have value across all formats, in particular the multi-day Tests and Twenty20, but the BCCI media rights have proved that the game’s future is drifting towards digital viewership.
Neeraj chopra

Neeraj Chopra Goes For Gold And Gets It ... Three Cheers To Him!

Neeraj Chopra has showcased his talent with a spear-like object, won gold medals in international competitions and proved to a nation starved of sports icons that nothing is impossible to achieve. The 25-year-old javelin thrower’s feats have to be described as phenomenal; one that has lifted the aspirations of the young talent across all sports. Hailing from Panipat, Chopra — who took an interest in a not-so-popular discipline of the mother of all sport, athletics — has, in the last seven years, demonstrated that individual drive and ambition in pursuit of excellence will be rewarded. Ever since he won the World Under20 Championship title in Poland in 2016, he has only improved and remained on the World stage. It was an extraordinary display by two more javelin throwers at the World Championships in Budapest — Kishore Jena and DP Manu — who finished 5th and 6th respectively. Chopra has all the titles with him — Asian, Commonwealth, Diamond League, Olympics and the World’s. Chopra will be one of the star attractions in the forthcoming 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China and at the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024. Training abroad has helped him to maintain fitness and sustain his form in the context of achieving consistency; what has eluded him though is the 90m mark which he was hopeful of touching at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest where he won the gold with a distance of 88.17m.


Wrist Of Fury, Kuldeep Yadav Gets The Nod

The BCCI’s selection committee, captain Rohit Sharma and Head Coach Rahul Dravid are looking in the same direction in so far as the choice of Kuldeep Yadav for the Asia Cup juxtaposed against Yuzvendra Chahal. Wrist spinners are unique; they practice a difficult art. Many find it difficult to maintain a high degree of consistency blending with a variety of skill sets. Yadav tweaks with his left hand thus changing the angle of the delivery, bowling over and around the wicket. In a little over six years, Yadav has featured in 59 wins taking 110 scalps at 23.45, conceding 4.88 runs an over. In all, he has played 84 matches and taken 141 wickets at 26.55, conceding 5.17 runs an over. Chahal tweaks with his right hand and in seven years has featured in 49 wins taking 102 wickets at 20.76, conceding 4.82 runs an over. In all, he has played 72 matches, taken 121 wickets at 27.13, conceding 5.27 runs an over. India with Chahal has won 65.52 % of the matches, while with Yadav, India has won 70.24 %. Looking at the batting numbers, Yadav has an average of 11.71 with an aggregate of 112 at No 9 (scored 164 runs in all) and Chahal has an average of 8.56 with an aggregate of 49 at No 10 (scored in all 77 runs).  Yadav brings in a 7-match 2019 World Cup experience and a 6-match 2018 Asia Cup experience. That’s that!
Rohit rahul bcci


Rohit Sharma And Rahul Dravid On The Watch

Captain Rohit Sharma and Head Coach Rahul Dravid will be watched and commented upon once the Asia Cup starts against arch-rivals Pakistan at Pallekele on September 2. It has already begun with former India captains Sourav Ganguly and Irfan Pathan not agreeing with the non-selection of the orthodox leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal for the Continental tournament. Chahal (33) has been competing with another wrist spinner but of the Chinaman (left arm unorthodox) variety in Kuldeep Yadav. The selection committee could have us all believe that Yadav is a better option with the bat after No 7 or 8 and that he is also a better fielder. Yadav has 141 wickets in 84 ODIs and he has been consistent this year taking 22 wickets in 11 matches at 17.18. He took 10 wickets in six matches of the 2018 Asia Cup (50 overs a side) in Dubai. The selection committee appears to have given the leeway to the captain and coach to pick the squad and for the first time Sharma will have a near full-strength team for a tournament. The only batsman who could not make the Asia Cup cut is left-hander Yashasvi Jaiswal, but he could be in the probables for the ICC Cricket World Cup in India in October- November. The Sharma- Dravid team has won 12 out of 17 ODIs. It could be a make or mar case for them over the next three months.


Is Jasprit Bumrah Ready For The Big Comeback?

India has won 49 one-day internationals when fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah spearheaded its bowling department. Precisely the reason Indian cricket is praying that he doesn’t break down again after his return to the ranks as captain for the short Twenty20 series in Ireland. In his absence (37 matches, 28 since July 2022) India has lost 23 matches. The numbers paint the importance of his presence at the ICC World Cup. He has sent down 633.5 overs in 72 innings, taking 121 wickets at 24.31 at a low economy rate of 4.64. Bumrah will be seen in action having recovered from a stress fracture of the lower back. He pulled out of the Indian team a few times last year because of his vulnerable back and hence another flare-up will be disastrous news for him and the Indian team. It’s in the Asia Cup and the three-match ODI series against Australia that he has to be put through the wringer to ascertain the condition of his spine. Bumrah would like to improve his results against Pakistan (4 wkts at 48.75), Australia (22 wkts at 37.36) and New Zealand (13 wkts at 36.85).  The Asia Cup and World Cup will give him the first opportunity to play a big part because India will start these two competitions against Pakistan at Pallekele and Australia in Chennai. Bumrah will be seen in action in blue against Ireland and the cricket world will get the first glimpses of the recovery he has made.
hocky teams

Chennai Gives Boost To Hockey, Will Other States Follow?

Chennai has set an example by hosting the Hero Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) and enabling local fans to look at modern Indian hockey athletes in action. International hockey in India — and this includes two World Cups — was confined to Odisha, whose Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has walked the extra mile to embrace the sport by resolving to support hockey till 2033. But the sport demanded it to be advertised across the country. India’s men and women’s teams achieved a lot at the Tokyo Olympics, but the men’s and women’s team has to win the gold medal at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China to seal the berth for the Summer Olympics in Paris next year. Chennai, which has given a lot to Indian men’s hockey has taken the lead to promote the game in a big way and encourage other States to deploy money for a sport that India dominated playing on grass. The locals in the Southern city ought to have been thrilled at the home team winning the title after trailing 1-3 against Malaysia.  India did not lose a single match in the six-team tournament but must have got a fair idea of how to go about winning the Asian Games gold.  It’s time now for Maharashtra — which has excelled in the National Games and two Khelo India Youth Games —  to host a big event to revive hockey in Mumbai, home to many Olympians.

ICC World Cup: Will India Play Yashasvi Jaiswal At No 4?

Rohit Sharma has hit the nail on its head by revealing that the No 4 spot in the batting order of the Indian team for the ICC World Cup is yet to be firmed up. The crucial position that is a fulcrum in the team’s batting order was virtually going Shreyas Iyer’s way, but a vulnerable back that has rendered him out of action for a few months, since the third Test against Australia in Indore, has upset the apple cart and made him a doubtful starter for the World Cup. Iyer, a busy bee in the middle, has scored 805 runs at No 4 (average 47.35) and 534 at No 3 (average 59.33), and the faithful can understand Sharma and the national selection committee’s worry. Iyer’s ODI scoring rate average is 5.79 — ranging from 5.73 at No 3, 5.66 at No 4 and 6.30 at No 5. Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah has been named captain for the short Twenty20 series in Ireland, but KL Rahul and Iyer are still in the process of fixing their respective body parts. Yuvraj Singh, as pointed out by Sharma made 3384 runs at No 4 with 6 x 100s and 17 x 50s. Suryakumar Yadav, a blockbuster batsman in Twenty20, has been found short in the longer white-ball format. The host nation is on the horns of a dilemma about the No4 position. Will India go for Yashasvi Jaiswal?
Rahul Dravid_003

The Buck Stops With The Captain But Rahul Dravid Faces Flak

Rahul Dravid is facing flak for India’s dismal results across all formats. Rohit Sharma is the captain of the team and he too was at the butt of criticism for poor decisions in the WTC final against Australia. Not only on the count of results but also on their choice of playing XIs and tactics, the captain and coach are praised or pilloried. Both assumed long-term roles after India’s disappointing work in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in the winter of 2021. Dravid’s report card is: Tests played 17, won 9, lost 5, drawn 3 for a 54% success rate. In ODIs, the numbers are: played 36, won 23, lost 11, NR 2 for a 63.89% success rate and in the Twenty20s it is: played 50, won 35, lost 13, NR and Tied one each for a 70% success rate. Dravid was not the coach in a few odd white ball matches. India flopped in three major events — the Asia Cup in the UAE, Twenty20 World Cup in Australia and the ICC WTC final at The Oval.  Usually, the buck stops with the captain, but Dravid is seen as a party to the collateral damage caused; in this case, he could not win the blue riband ICC events. Both Sharma and Dravid will look forward to a happier end in the home World Cup, come October-November.

Is Hyderabad Cricket Association The Most Tainted In India?

The Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) is in the news again! No need to guess; for notorious reasons alone. A most respected judge has pointed out how over one-fourth of the HCA Membership has destroyed the edifice of the Association because of rampant instances of conflict of Interest. The judge has debarred 57 clubs of the 208 or thereabout from taking part in the next election of the HCA, pointing out flaws in the ownership of the clubs and how people have abused their position. The conflict of interest malaise that was (and is) palpable in cricket administration across the country was so eloquently presented by Justice RN Lodha (former Chief Justice of India) Committee seven years ago in the “Reforms in Cricket” report. And on this occasion, the 46-page final order by Justice L Nageswara Rao (former judge, Supreme Court and Single Member Committee appointed by the Apex Court to ensure free and proper election of the Apex Council of the HCA) has named virtually who’s who of HCA and debarred their clubs for three years. People say that more skeletons in the cupboard will fall should a report presented by a Committee of Administrators to the High Court in a sealed cover is made public. It’s been an unending saga of the alleged maladministration in the HCA that gave India such splendid cricketers as Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, ML Jaisimha, Abbas Ali Baig and VVS Laxman.


Is Bumrah Ready To Link Up With The Men In Blue?

Last week the BCCI threw the first hints of Jasprit Bumrah’s return to international cricket.  With the ICC World Cup set to start for India (against Australia) on October 9 in Chennai,  the medical team monitoring the fast bowler’s rehabilitation has been cautious, giving him the leeway to regain fitness and avoid a breakdown. Bumrah has been out of action since September 2022, with a nagging back-related ailment forcing him to go under the knife.  Easily Bumrah has been India’s successful fast bowler in the last seven and a half years — he has taken 319 wickets in 1893 overs across formats including 121 scalps in 72 ODI matches. The Indian team led by Rohit Sharma is now accustomed to taking the field without the speedster with an awkward action. Still, Sharma and his team would be the happiest should Bumrah be declared fit for any form of white ball cricket after the series in the West Indies. According to the BCCI, Bumrah is in the final stages of rehab and is bowling with full intensity in the nets at the National Cricket Academy. There is speculation that Bumrah may be chosen for the three-match Twenty20 series in Ireland in mid-August. Once he clears this Ireland hurdle without stress and anxiety, he may be picked for the three-match ODI series against Australia before the World Cup. In Ireland, he will have to bowl four overs in a match, in the World Cup it will be 10 overs.

BCCI Should Withdraw Harmanpreet Kaur From Asian Games For Bad Behaviour


Harmanpreet Kaur’s rash behaviour upon her dismissal and at the prize distribution function after the third one-day international against Bangladesh in Mirpur has been widely condemned by the cricketing fraternity. The severity of her deportment warrants a precedent — setting response from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). A slap on the wrist from the BCCI would be tantamount to allowing the India captain to go scot-free. She has been named the captain for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, and the BCCI should look to withdraw her name from the squad. The BCCI has done its best to promote women’s cricket, and recently, the ICC took a laudable decision to bring parity in prize money for the events staged by it. Harmanpreet, according to a broad section of the commentators, needs to face disciplinary action. There is Smriti Mandhana to step in as captain. Apart from a few former Indian umpires (Harmanpreet had targeted the Bangladesh umpires), former India all-rounder and 1983 World Cup star Madan Lal has called her behaviour pathetic and one that has tarnished the image of Indian cricket. The ICC has not yet announced its decision on the unsavoury episode by India’s captain; it is speculated, though, that she may be banned for the following two internationals. The BCCI must be seen to be protecting the spirit of the game at all costs.

Major League Cricket

Cricket Has Made A Solid Move From The Petrodollar To Richie Rich World!

Quite a few events have occurred over the last two days in the cricket world. For straightforward reasons, the news from Durban that the International Cricket Council (ICC) — in which the BCCI Secretary Jay Shah is a Director; he is also the Chairman of the ICC Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee — has resolved to introduce equal prize money structure for winning the title and matches in the ICC events like the World Cup, Twenty20 World Cup and the under 19 World Cup. While this is a happy tidings, the start of the Major League Cricket across the Atlantic is viewed as achieving a breakthrough in the American market. Almost three decades ago, Dr Ali Bacher, a former South Africa captain and marketing genius, had said that only a game of 25 or 20 overs lasting around three hours  — like baseball — could capture the imagination of the Americans. That’s exactly what has happened, albeit after quite a few attempts, and thanks to the considerable interest demonstrated by four IPL franchise teams and also the involvement of Cricket Victoria and Cricket New South Wales in the two other teams. Cricket has now genuinely moved from the petrodollar world to the Richie Rich world! With the blessings of Cricket USA and the ICC, the MLC is poised to become big, with professional cricket making its debut with a match between Texas Super Kings and Los Angeles Knight Riders.
Ajit Agarkar

Forced To Quit By The MCA In 2019, Ajit Agarkar Gets The BCCI Job!

Ajit Agarkar has taken charge as the new Chairman of the BCCI’s senior selection committee. His immediate predecessor, Chetan Sharma, had stirred a hornet’s nest by divulging matters related to players’ fitness, among other issues, during a sting operation by a TV channel. Very soon, in the middle of February this year — just some days into his second term as the Chief of the selection committee that came with a handsome annual salary — Sharma,  a lively fast bowling partner to the ‘Haryana Express’ Kapil Dev,  was shown the door and an exalted position in Indian cricket remained vacant for five months. Even as the media raised questions about the BCCI’s reluctance to fill the vacancy immediately, the former India all-rounder with 349 international wickets and who turned out to be the Adelaide Hero with a 6 for 41 in a Test match against Australia in December 2003 has been appointed Chairman; his colleagues being Shiv Sundar Das, Subroto Banerjee, Salil Ankola and S Sharath. With the Asia Cup and the ICC World Cup approaching, the BCCI, with Roger Binny and Jay Shah at the helm, completed a task by getting on board a cricketer of good standing. Four years ago, the Mumbai Cricket Association forced him to quit on flimsy grounds; Agarkar gave his heart and soul to Mumbai cricket, but a handful of administrators with bloated egos had their say.
Garfield Sobers


The Indian Cricket Team Meets The Truly Great, Sir Garfield Sobers

India’s cricket faithful will miss the Caribbean flavour so joyfully presented by the cricketers of the bygone era in the ICC World Cup in India. Representing the beautiful islands and sporting the maroon cap, the West Indies have been knocked out in the ICC qualifiers in Zimbabwe. While its cricketers would return utterly gutted, the team would be soon engaged in a series across all formats against India, starting with a two-Test series. Meanwhile, the Indian team led by Rohit Sharma, during its preparation at Barbados, had the opportunity to meet one of the true greats of the game, Sir Garfield Sobers. The BCCI posted a video of the meeting between India’s cricketers and the West Indies legends, saying: “In Barbados & in the company of greatness. Team India meets one of the greatest of the game — Sir Garfield Sobers.”  Pleasant times indeed for India’s stars like Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin and other team members and the coach Rahul Dravid. All were glad to shake hands with the legend who did everything as a cricketer to excel — batting, bowling, fielding and leading! Now 88, Sobers captured the imagination of the cricket world for twenty years from 1954 to 1974, and the numbers he achieved as a Test cricketer says it all: 93 Tests, 8032 runs, 365 not out as the highest, 26 x 100s and 30 x 50s, 235 wickets and 109 catches. 
Indo_Pak match

With Navratri And Wedding Season, India-Pakistan Clash Will Rake In Big Moola In Ahmedabad

Call it “rake the moola”;  that’s the name of the game in the hospitality industry in Ahmedabad,  the most favoured destination for the marquee matches of the ICC World Cup to be played in India from October 5 to November 19. After the World Cup schedule was announced on July 27 in Mumbai, the room tariffs across star hotels skyrocketed, with many travel agency apps displaying “sold out or not available” messages.  The biggest match of the 48 will take place at the Narendra Modi Stadium on  October 15 (the first day of Navaratri), when the arch-rivals India and Pakistan lock horns, which has a potential billing for around one lakh spectators plus.  Rough estimates have put the hospitality industry to run a turnover close to Rs 1000 crore, with Ahmedabad set to host the opening game (England v New Zealand ), the India v Pakistan match, Australia v England,  South Africa v Afghanistan and the final.  With spectators likely to travel from the USA and UK for the Navratri festival and the wedding season, the home town of India’s Prime Minister and Home Minister is all set for a gala time. The World Cup final of 2011 returned Rs 22 crore to the Mumbai Cricket Association from gate receipts; 12 years later, the Gujarat Cricket Association with a lakh-plus capacity will laugh its way to the Bank!
Pritvi shaw sarfaraz khan

BCCI May Ask Prithvi Shaw And Sarfaraz Khan To Mend Ways

On and off the field, shenanigans are bandied about for overlooking the claims of Mumbai youngsters Prithvi Shaw and Sarfaraz Khan in the national team for the format they are most suitable for. The chatter in the grapevine is that both will be summoned by the BCCI and told in no uncertain terms that they have to straighten up in order to be considered for red and white ball cricket. Had it not been for the supposed black marks against these talents, Khan would have probably played four Tests starting from the Delhi Test against Australia, leading to the ICC WTC final at The Oval in London, and Shaw could have been on the broader canvas for the Asia Cup and World Cup competitions. This column understands that the players’ home association — the Mumbai Cricket Association — is abreast of what’s going on as regards their non-selection in the Indian teams. According to an insider in the BCCI, people have immense respect for their skill and prolific run-scoring ability, but Shaw and Khan have to get the green signal from the BCCI for their names to be placed on the selection committee table. The insider stated that the game of cricket teaches suitable life lessons, and the BCCI would counsel Shaw and Khan, make them mend their ways and that they are, by their performances, very much on the radar of Indian team selection.
Sarfaraz jaiswal

Sarfaraz(left) and Yashasvi

Sweet News For Yashasvi, A Bitter Pill For Sarfaraz

Yashasvi Jaiswal, the powerful southpaw batsman, has stolen the thunder from Sarfaraz Khan and crashed through the national team’s door. In as much as the ardent followers of the game in Mumbai would sympathise with Sarfaraz, the  ‘pocket dynamo’, for not being able to convince the national selection committee of his gifts, they would also congratulate Yashasvi for his rapid rise as a talented left-hand opener across all formats. Not long ago, Sarfaraz was ahead of another budding star from Mumbai, Arman Jaffer, in the India potential category, but the last year saw Yashasvi make a big noise with his bat. A fabulous Tata-IPL 16 and the 21-year-old — immediately after two good domestic seasons — won him a call as a standby for Pune and Maharashtra’s Ruturaj Gaikwad, whose wedding prevented him travelling to the UK for pre-match preparations for the WTC final at ‘The Oval’. So a perseverant and ambitious youth who gave a helping hand to his father sell savouries at a famous maidan in Mumbai caught the imagination of the cricketing fraternity with his blitzkrieg-like displays in the IPL. The Mumbai Cricket Association and Rajasthan Royals must get credit for shaping his fledgling career, but Sarfaraz ought to be disappointed in losing faith in the system. His non-selection for the West Indies tour has left the legendary Sunil Gavaskar fuming. At the end of it all, sweet news for Yashasvi and a bitter pill to swallow for Sarfaraz. Yet again!
Brendon McCullum

'Bazball' Ashes, The Ultimate Test For England

The champions of the ‘Bazball’ brand of cricket — the England captain Ben Stokes and the country’s New Zealand coach Brendon McCullum — have every reason to be pleased and proud that their mindset to take Test match cricket forward boldly and bravely has found admirers. Baz is the nickname of McCullum, and hence the term coined by the media to describe the style of playing the game most forcefully, notwithstanding the situation at any given time. McCullum, who believed in going after the ball while playing for New Zealand–  taking risks — brought about a remarkable transformation in England’s Test team’s outlook, taking over from Chris Silverwood in the three-match home Test series against New Zealand in June 2022. England’s 22 batsmen have scored at 4.61 runs an over in 13 Tests, and its 14 bowlers have conceded  3.21 runs in 2129.1 overs before the start of the ‘Ashes’ that has been given a riveting start in the first Test at Edgbaston. The Stokes and McCullum team has won 11 and lost one to South Africa and New Zealand. The ongoing ‘Ashes’ is the first under the ‘Bazball’ variety and hence seen as the ultimate Test series because Australia has not won a series in England for 22 years. Someone like the former Australian captain Ian Chappell asks what’s new about “Bazball”, but the former South African captain Ali Bacher says Stokes and McCullum will keep Test match cricket alive!
Ajinkya Rahane

Why Not Appoint Ajinkya Rahane As Captain For The West Indies Test Series

It is out-of-the-box thinking, but one that needs to be addressed by the BCCI’s senior national selection committee with purpose and urgency. Willy-nilly, Ajinkya Rahane — not on annual retainership — appears to have returned to captaincy stakes after his triumphant comeback to the national ranks for the multi-day Test match cricket. Rahane is not naive to the leadership role; he was the captain of the Indian team that scored a remarkable series win in Australia after the team was shot out for 36 in the second innings at Adelaide in December 2020. He has led India in 6 Tests and won four, three against Australia. He has not lost a Test match. Rahane has an average of 39.89 as captain scoring 359 runs in 11 innings. The soft-spoken Mumbaikar has made quite an impression as a leader, and the selection committee, without a chairman, could look at him for the series in the West Indies.  In fact, the selection committee — after India’s dismal display in the ICC WTC final at The Oval — must take the opportunity to look to bring in new players with a good record in the domestic tournaments. India has gone down in two WTC finals because of its stereotype policies — including the decision to drop Ravichandran Ashwin — and hence the time is upon the selection committee to usher changes, and quickly too.

The ICC WTC Title -- The Chips Are Down For India

The chips are down for India in the ICC WTC final against Australia at `The Oval’ in London. After six sessions, Australia has its foot at the door to win the Test championship for the first time. The same venue had delivered a famous first away victory for India in England in 1971 when the Ajit Wadekar-led Indian team outwitted the home team led by the shrewd Ray Illingworth. Then, Wadekar deployed the likes of the cunning left-arm spinner Bishen Singh Bedi, the accurate S Venkataraghavan and the sleight of hand of right-arm leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar to bring down England. Some 52 years later, India opted for a pace-centric attack ignoring the claims of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (132 wickets in two ICC WTC cycles).  With the impending defeat — with three days of play remaining — the former Australian captain Ricky Ponting and opener Mathew Hayden, have pointed out a significant flaw in the Indian team selection that one cannot pick a bowling attack for the first day’s play. Having opted for Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur, Sharma had no option but to field upon winning the toss. The pacers had a rewarding outing on the second day, dismissing seven Australians for 142, but by then, the horse had already bolted – Australia had made 327 for three on Day 1, thereby ending the probability of a real showdown.
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Will India Pick Ravi Ashwin For The ICC WTC Final?

What are the odds of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin making the ICC World Test Championship final cut at `The Oval’ in London from June 7? India qualified for the final with a 2-1 win against Australia in the recent home series, and Ashwin was instrumental in that emphatic victory taking 25 wickets in the four Test series; eight at Nagpur and six at New Delhi. Ashwin who has fantastic numbers in home conditions has played seven Tests in England, including the WTC final against New Zealand at the Rose Bowl in 2021, but he did not feature in the five Test series against England, with the team management opting for Shardul Thakur, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav; the rest of the attack being Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Ravindra Jadeja. Skipper Rohit Sharma will not have Bumrah to pick on Wednesday (June 7), but he and head coach Rahul Dravid will have to look at fast bowler Yadav who took six wickets at the Surrey Country venue two years ago. And also perhaps left hand batter Axar Patel who gave substantial girth to the lower order in the home series against Australia scoring 264 runs with three half centuries. But England, with its fickle weather poses challenges by the hour and Sharma and Dravid will be compelled to pick the XI that’s best before the first ball is sent down. In this year’s English County Championships, 91 wickets have fallen at The Oval; of these only one wicket has been taken by a slow spinner in three Division I matches; so plenty of food for thought for Sharma and Dravid. .
Mumbai indians

Mumbai Indians Look For Last Roll Of The Dice In Its Favour For IPL Playoffs

On the face of it, Mumbai Indians may appear to have cooked its own goose to position itself for its sixth IPL crown. After a bungling start in the Tata IPL-16 against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings, MI made amends by winning, moved to the No 3 position in the leader board and looked set for a the playoffs. Its  famous plans of starting this season’s power play with Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer did not happen, stricken as they were with back and elbow injuries. It’s batting clicked to an extent, though skipper Rohit Sharma’s shots misfired in five outings in a row; however the team showed its mettle to raise genuine hopes to stay put in the top 4. But leaking 54 runs in the last three overs against the Lucknow Super Giants threw the spanner in the works for it to make headway. And on Thursday, RCB’s Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis dislodged MI from the top 4 with a superior net run rate. On Sunday- the last day of the league stage– both MI and RCB will know what they have to do vis-a-vis the playoffs. All is not lost yet for MI. CSK (15 points) and LSG (15 points) have the advantage, but should one of it lose on Saturday, MI will press for a win against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday to enter the playoffs. Ditto with the RCB against the Gujarat Titans

Will Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rinku Singh And Tushar Deshpande Make The India T20 Cut!

As the domestic cricket season is on the home stretch of a lightning bolt IPL finish, the faithful is wondering if the four national selectors (the appointment of the Chairman to replace Chetan Sharma yet to be done) have seen new talent in the Tata IPL-16 to name a new look India Twenty20 team for the three-match series in the West Indies in July. The BCCI would like to start the process of giving opportunities to the freshers before the next year’s ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA. The ongoing IPL has been grabbed by Mumbai left hander Yashasvi Jaiswal (575 runs in 13 matches) and Uttar Pradesh’s Rinku Singh (407 runs in 13 matches), and paceman Tushar Deshpande (19 wickets in 13 matches). The likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma did not feature in the last eight Twenty20 matches India played in New Zealand and against Sri Lanka and New Zealand at home and the likes of Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan and Rahul Tripathy were seen in action. Those in the know of selection matters believe that Jaiswal and Rinku have a bright chance to make the Twenty20 cut. So could be Deshpande, who has been Chennai Super King’s bowling linchpin in the IPL-16. This is the year of the 50 over World Cup in India, but the Twenty20 World Cup is only 12 months away and hence the opportune time to get down to brass stacks.

Of Atal Bihari Vajpayee And Cricket Diplomacy With Pakistan

The  wise words of Atal Bihari Vajpayee ring a bell even after two decades when the then Prime Minister coaxed the Indian team saying “sirf match nahi dil be Jeetkar aao” (not  only the match, but win their hearts too.) This was in 2004 when India toured Pakistan after 15 years. It was at the instance of Vajpayee — in 1999 — that the BCCI played host to a two Test series against Pakistan in Chennai and Delhi where leg spinner Anil Kumble took all 10 wickets in the second innings at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. “If needed, play the Test series in an empty stadium,” Mr. Vajpayee told the then BCCI president, Rajsingh Dungarpur. Political exigencies have put a stop to full bilateral series between the two countries. Pakistan toured India in 2005 and 2007. The refrain from the liberals either side across the border is that sport should not be mixed with politics, but the Indian government for long has not allowed the Indian cricket team to tour Pakistan citing its role in abetting terrorism activities in India, especially the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai. There is a whispering quarrel going on now between the BCCI and the PCB, around India going to Pakistan for this year’s Asia Cup and Champions Trophy in 2025, and Pakistan travelling to for this year’s ICC World Cup in India. It will be interesting to see how things pan out in the coming weeks.
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Mastercard's Chinmay Patankar's Big Push For Mallakhamb At Los Angeles Summer Olympics

Chinmay Patankar is a hero in the making for Mallakhamb, a traditional Indian sport, that’s akin to gymnastics and wrestling practised on a pole and rope. Praised by PM Narendra Modi on his ‘Mann Ki Baat‘ programme for spreading the India brand through Mallakhamb in the USA, the Pune-boy, a recipient of Maharashtra State’s Shiv Chhatrapati Award, Patankar is going all out to present Mallakhamb as a demonstration sport either in the opening or closing ceremony of the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in 2028. A qualified engineer, Patankar who is a Director at Mastercard, USA, is very optimistic of Mallakhamb getting a global audience at LA 2028. Settled in New Jersey with his family for over a decade, Patankar is taking help from the Maharashtra Olympic Association and actor and producer Raqesh Bapat, who is going to make a lengthy documentary for creating awareness among the international community at the diplomatic, sports and cultural levels. Patankar spent $ 3000 in 2013 to get the sport take baby steps and now he has 500 plus Mallakhamb athletes, majority of them with a Grade 5 proficiency. He says the local authorities, including the Governor of New Jersey are kept abreast of the initiative taken by the Mallakhamb Federation of USA that the sport is already happening in 10 States of the USA and it is catching up in the East and West Coast.
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Indian Cricket Very Anxious On Rishabh Pant's Come Back

Rishabh Pant has made a few public appearances during the Tata -IPL 16, the first one was during Delhi Capitals clash with Gujarat Titans at the Arun Jaitley Stadium. Pant had survived a road accident in December last; and injuries to many parts of his body, surgery thereafter and a long rehabilitation time has ruled him out of action and no one knows when he will return to serious work. Observers don’t see him returning to action for more than a year which means he will miss the ICC World Cup in India in October-November. People who know the exacting demands placed on a wicketkeeper in a Test match feel that the ligament tear on his right knee will make it really tough for him to keep wicket for 90 overs (540 balls). “He has to bend his knees so many times and it will be a physical strain. Even in ODIs it’s a matter of keeping wicket for a minimum 300 balls. It’s going to be tough,” said a person closely watching Pant’s recovery. If the selection committee recalled Ajinkya Rahane for the final of the ICC WTC final against Australia at ‘The Oval’ from June 7, it was because of injuries to Shreyas Iyer and Pant. Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah has been laid low by a weak back. But what could be worrying many is the severity of the knee injury to Pant.
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Rs 735 Crore Windfall For Associations Staging IPL

The staging associations of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will receive a financial compensation of Rs 1.5 crore for each match. For instance the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) will get Rs 10.5 crore from seven home matches of the Mumbai Indians. Other associations like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Hyderabad, Bengal, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat too will get the same. The Punjab and Rajasthan Cricket Association will get the equivalent for five matches because the Punjab Kings will play two at Himachal Pradesh (Dharamsala) and the Rajasthan Royals have already played two in Assam (Guwahati). In all the 10 staging associations will get Rs 735 crore for the 70 league matches. The four playoff matches — two each at Chennai and Ahmedabad — will be conducted by the BCCI. In 2008 the BCCI had allotted Rs 200 crore to be disbursed to its full members together, all this has gone up manifold. The players are not the only stakeholders who have benefited from the IPL, the members of the BCCI too have with different revenue streams in place. With the pandemic forcing the IPL to be played in the Middle East in 2020 and 2021, the home team associations lost substantial money. But it has been a windfall this season, the money could be deployed for stadium maintenance and other activities of the State association. The MCA (Mumbai) can even fund to an extent the activities of some well-run clubs that win local tournaments.
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Focus Rivetted On Arjun, The Legendary Sachin Tendulkar's Son

Arjun Tendulkar has bowled the first over of the powerplay, and thereby the first over of the match itself, and the last over (40th) of an IPL match. Both tough overs when the batsmen throw their wrists to get going, especially in the first six overs when only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle. Son of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Arjun has been in the news ever since the five-time winner of the league Mumbai Indians made a successful bid for him at Rs 30 lakhs at the player auction in February last. The 23 year old is a left arm seamer who has played a few matches in the BCCI’s domestic tournaments for Mumbai and Goa. He has also played two Under-19 Test matches for India. He was often seen at the MI nets before the franchise chose him for the 2021 IPL season. The inability of left arm seamer Arshad Khan to make a big impact in the first three matches may have hastened Arjun’s IPL debut against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede. Arjun gave just five runs in the first over and when given the last (death) over against the Sunrisers Hyderabad — when he had 19 to defend — he bowled to the field and took his first IPL wicket too. In two matches Arjun has held his own!
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The BCCI Loosens Its Purse Strings, Not So Much The State Associations

While the BCCI has created a lot of goodwill by raising the monthly gratis for the retired Test and first class cricketers and recently increased the prize money for different tournaments in the domestic circuit for men and women, the State associations are reluctant to engage cricketers on an annual retainership. A few years ago the Ranji Trophy winning Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel stated that the time was ripe for the State associations, which take part in the BCCI tournaments, to award annual retainership in order to bring succour to its regular players and provide security. This sentiment is very strong among the domestic first class cricketers of the country, but the State associations whose activities are largely funded by the BCCI grants — from its media rights and other streams of income — have unfortunately not demonstrated the sagacity to improve the lot of its cricketers. Many uncapped cricketers receive decent money from their IPL franchises, but they still need to be supported by their home associations which receive substantial money from the BCCI on an annual basis. The BCCI has 26 players on annual retainership with category A+ players receiving Rs 7 crore, category A: Rs 5 crore, category B: Rs 3 crore and category C: Rs 1 crore. The State associations’ outgo will be much less and there is no reason for it to dilly dally to award retainership to its uncapped players on a performance-linked basis.

ICC WTC Final Team Selection Fever Will Grip Indians, Very Soon!

Around the first week of June the cricket world would have known the winner of the 2nd ICC World Test Championship to be played at The Oval. The contenders are Australia and India, currently the top two in the ICC Test Rankings, not the reason though for qualifying for the title match of the WTC, the ICC established to make every Test match relevant. Australia and India qualified after going through the two year cycle (2021-23) that saw 57 of the 69 Test matches played by nine countries deliver results. India has played 14 Tests at The Oval and won 2; the first in 1971 and the second in 2021. Australia has played 38 Tests at the London venue and has won only 7, losing 17 to England. From the India XI that outplayed England by 157 runs in 2021 the missing players would be Jasprit Bumrah (2 wickets apiece) and Rishabh Pant (9 and 50). There are certainties from the remaining nine, including K L Rahul who made 127, when India was in deficit by 99 runs. Shubman Gill too has arrived now. Fast bowler Umesh Yadav took six wickets at The Oval in 2021, can he be ignored? Mohammed Shami did not figure in that bowling attack, Ravichandran Ashwin too. The selection of the Indian team will make the faithful curious. These are early days, and no one wants another one to face the misfortune that has struck Bumrah and Shreyas.
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IPL Fledgling Rinku A Hit For Shah Rukh Khan’s KKR!

The more the merrier sentiments seem to be gripping the watchers of the Tata Indian Premier League (IPL) Season 16 with high voltage action being broadcast by Disney Star which made a successful Rs 23,575 crore bid for the television rights for five seasons (2023-27) and JioCinema that acquired the digital rights for Rs 23,757.50 crore through Viacom18. Both parties were keen and eager to have a big chunk of the ownership of the media rights of easily the biggest Twenty20 tournament in the world. Fifteen matches have been played until Monday (Apr 10) and both Disney Star and JioCinema have put out the viewership numbers to grab attention of the advertisers, but ultimately it’s the faithful who is having a whale of a time; turning out in big numbers at the stadium, switching on the TV set at home and mobile devices from wherever he or she is. After five seasons the BCCI would have seen its cash flow rise by unimaginable proportions, but as of now the followers of IPL are rejoicing at the pyrotechnics displayed by the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Shardul Thakur, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Nicholas Pooran. The icing on the cake was the stupendous 6 hitting by IPL fledgling Rinku Singh, who smashed 5x 6s of the last five balls for Shah Rukh Khan’s KKR to win a ‘lost’ match to Gujarat Titans. Great push for the BCCI’s IPL! 

Baroda Cricket Association: A Laggard When Compared To Gujarat And Saurashtra

Cricket connoisseurs in Baroda, a nine time finalist and five time winner of the Ranji Trophy, have been denied opportunities to see international matches featuring the top stars of the Indian men’s and overseas teams for 13 years. The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) has been an utter laggard when it comes to creating a fan friendly modern infrastructure and failing to understand their sentiments. Many years ago the BCA, according to local officials bought a 40 acre land at Kotambi for Rs 17 crore, but did not demonstrate urgency to complete the project of constructing a well-equipped stadium, and as a consequence it has lost the opportunity to become a potential Association to host a World Cup match this October-November. On this count, the officials of the Saurashtra and Gujarat cricket associations showed the foresight to build a modern stadia for international matches, also pass on benefits to the local talent and scored over the languishing Baroda. There are reports that the work at Kotambi will be completed sometime next year, but an association that was made famous by the Nimbalkars, Gaekwads, Hazares and Ghorpades others ought to have seen the progress made by Saurashtra and Gujarat and emulated them. The cricket loving people of Baroda, indeed, have been given the short shrift by the authorities. Next door at Rajkot and Ahmedabad, it has been a joyful experience for the cricket fans.
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Salim Durani Was One Of A Kind 'Prince Of Cricket'

Salim Durani, a breezy and light-hearted, would have been a perfect fit and a big draw in the IPL Twenty20 format. He was the crowd’s darling at the Brabourne Stadium, Cricket Club of India in February 1973, playing his last Test against the Tony Lewis led England side. He hit three 6s when the spectators asked for the big shot (2 in the first inning and one in the second). Willowy in built, Durani was one among the lot who shone with the bat— Farokh Engineer 121 and 66, Ajit Wadekar 87, Gundappa Viswanath 113, Sunil Gavaskar 67, and Eknath Solkar 48, all mighty by their own right. For a 16 year old like me, immersed in  all the thrill of a first Test at a famous cricketing venue, it was an awe-inspiring experience, but became curious when the lefty took strike and the “we want sixer shout” rent the air. I do not remember the off-spinner he smote the ball over the line, Pat Pocock or Jack Birkenshaw or the left hand spinner Derek Underwood, but the lanky fellow in the middle, obliged. There were too many fanboy moments, but Salim Durani gave a lovely finish to his career, making 73 in the first which I was lucky to see. He struck 14 x 6s in 29 Tests and 126 x 4s, but did not hit a six in 20 Test innings!
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Hardik Pandya And NaMo Stadium Mix Could Attract Huge Footfall For Gujarat Titans

It will truly be the first home season for Gujarat Titans in the IPL Twenty20 competition. The Titans will play seven league matches at the massive edifice at Motera, starting with the opening bout against four time winner Chennai Super Kings. A new entrant to the league last year, the Titans led by crowd puller, Hardik Pandya stunned the discerning and layman by winning the title putting it across the inaugural season champion Rajasthan Royals at the Narendra Modi (NaMo) Stadium in Ahmedabad. This season the Titans will play most matches in the presence of a crowd around one lakh. The high footfall for almost all matches will be happy news for the franchise, CVC Capital Partners, Europe’s biggest Private Equity firm which has  bought the franchise for Rs 5166 crore. At least four franchise owners had reported revenues upwards of Rs 35 crore every season, except when the league was held in South Africa and in the Persian Gulf. The venues in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mohali, Lucknow and Jaipur and a few more have a capacity much less than at the NaMo and hence the sheer footfall numbers and the price range for tickets should see good revenue from the paying spectators for the Titans which boasts of a big star in Hardik Pandya who delivers the goods with the bat, ball and to boot as a leader!
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BCCI To Benefit From ICC's $ 3 Bn Media Rights Deal With Disney Star

The news in the grapevine is that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is likely to get a humongous increase in its share of revenue from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the 2024-2027 cycle. All this because Disney Star has reportedly shelled out $ 3 bn for the ICC media rights for India (broadcast & digital) for the four year cycle. The ICC recently sold the UK media rights to Sky Sports for the 2024-2031 cycle. People privy to conversations among the high echelons of the full members in the ICC  say that the BCCI  has been urging the Cricket Boards (in the ICC)  to allot it a  higher share of money because it is the  Indian companies that are sponsoring much of ICC’s international events. Not long ago the ICC — with Shashank Manohar as the independent chairman — changed its financial and governance structure that was a little more considerate towards other full members (other than Australia and England) and the Associate Members. But with the new media rights agreements to be in place from 2024, the BCCI will receive more money from the World body from next year. The higher revenue from the ICC next year could result in higher receipts from the BCCI to its affiliated members which already are said to be receiving around Rs100 crore each year. More the better is the refrain among the BCCI members. And why not!
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Alarm Bells Of Sorts For India As ICC World Cup Looms Large

The ICC World Cup is only a little over six months away and the first alarm bells have been heard by India after Australia trounced the Rohit Sharma led home team 2-1 in the three match series. This was Australia’s sixth ODI series win in India’s backyard since 1984 when Kim Hughes led Australia beat India 3-0, with two matches ending in a no result show. It was also India’s first ODI series defeat in India in 48 months. A nervous top and middle order came a cropper to left arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam, but the Hardik Pandya led side rallied to put it across the visitor in Mumbai. Pandya’s stock appears to have gone up after his bowling and batting display at Chennai’s Chepauk. Dropped from the Test team for the last two matches of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, KL Rahul topped the batting average with 116 runs in three matches, but others did not reach the three figure aggregate. Apart from its powerlessness to deal with Starc, India’s new ball operators could not stop Mitchell Marsh’s “go after the bowling” approach and his 194 runs. It’s going to be a long drawn out World Cup in the October heat and a bit of cooler weather in November, but it looks as though India would like to look at itself as the underdog, not the favourite!


Vulnerable Backs Of Bumrah And Iyer Push India Back To The Wall!

The back ailment to fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and middle order bat Shreyas Iyer has affected India’s groundwork for the ICC World Test Championship final to be played at The Oval, London from June 7 to 11. Bumrah has played nine Tests in England and has taken 37 wickets at 26.27, but a surgery in New Zealand to alleviate his nagging back has virtually ruled him out of action for an unspecified period of time. He has not played a Test match and ODI for India since last July and a T20 since last September. Bumrah will not be seen in action in the IPL-16. India is now accustomed to going into a match without Bumrah and everyone is keeping his fingers crossed of his availability for the ICC World Cup in India this October- November. Without him, India’s pace department will only be at half its strength. Iyer’s back problem is much more than a niggle; India’s captain Rohit Sharma pitied Iyer’s plight after the Ahmedabad Test, saying: “Poor guy. It just was such an unfortunate incident.” Iyer had established himself as a key batsman in the middle order and it looked as though he would be in rehab for a long period of time. Insiders say Mumbai’s Sarfaraz Khan will finally make the India squad for the WTC final and for the series in the West Indies.


Mumbai Cricket Fans Deserve Pat On The Back

The Mumbai cricket fan deserves a pat on his back for thronging the Wankhede Stadium at Churchgate for the India-Australia one day international on Friday (Mar 17). The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) must be thrilled seeing a near full house, all having a gala time for seven hours; the mischief mongers tried to spoil MCA’s party by posting fake pictures of shabby seats at a popular stand. The MCA Secretary Ajinkya Naik said officials visited the stand and found everything spic and span. The spectators got their money’s worth too, seeing the ebb and flow of fortunes before KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja got involved in a rescue act initially, steering their team out of troubled waters and then finally giving the finishing touch in the 40th over. But there was so much excitement packed after India chose to bowl winning the toss, all started by the bang-bang going Mitchell Marsh. Then Shane Warne’s ‘Rockstar’ Jadeja rose to the occasion with the white Kookaburra. The match appeared to have swung in Australia’s favour when classy left arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc removed three in his opening burst before Rahul and Jadeja responded with barndoor defence and attractive stroke play. The spectators could not have had a better fill. Looks like the MCA went out of the way to roll out a super pitch that afforded the batters and bowlers a chance to shine.

Rohit Sharma Deflects 'Sick Story' About Virat Kohli With Aplomb!

Rohit Sharma — as he would do to a wayward delivery around his pads — deflected a sensitive question related to Virat Kohli being sick while he scored his Test century No 28 at the Narendra Modi Stadium on March 12. Sharma said “It’s funny what people talk about on social media. For us, we don’t really respond or look into what’s happening (in social media). I don’t think he’s sick, he was just coughing a little bit. He’s not that bad health-wise.” He also went on to say that the splendid century Kohli scored (after more than three years) in Test match cricket did not in any way was like getting the monkey off his back. Kohli himself was thrilled to play a big part in India outsmarting Australia in the first inning of the fourth Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Sharma endorsed Kohli’s classy eight and a half dig saying: “He’s just enjoying his cricket at the moment. Obviously, he wants to put up big performances for the team which he has done in the past so many years. He just wants to do that every time he plays for India.” The question raised at the post match media interaction was a reference to Kohli’s wife Anushka Sharma’s social media post that stated: “Playing through sickness with his composure, inspiring me always.” All that can be said about the drawn Test is that Kohli gave a solid masterclass on slow and drab pitch.

Why Blame Us For The "Poor Pitch" When The Fault Lies Elsewhere Ask BCCI Member Associations

Three Test matches have been played in the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy and the pitches at all three venues have been damned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) Match Referees. Zimbabwe’s Andy Pycroft gave an “average” rating for the pitch at Nagpur’s Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium and New Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla, and England’s Chris Broad did not hesitate to give a “poor” rating to the Holkar Stadium pitch, Indore. The ratings were as good as anyone, from a fan to official, would have imagined after seeing the behaviour of the pitch right in all three Tests put together, but the moot point is which entity should take the blame for the quality of the pitches for international matches played in India. Officials of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) were peeved that it had to face the flak, when fingers should have been pointed at the BCCI pitch and ground committee representatives who supervise the pitch preparation. The team management would not admit, but the officials of the BCCI member associations have divulged that the pitches have been prepared at the behest of an influential support staff member in order to suit the team’s spinners. The Indore pitch has been given three demerit points and the MPCA is fuming because they are not at fault. What’s in store in Ahmedabad is anybody’s guess!

India-Australia Series: Tinkering With The Pitch Backfires In Indore

Given the option, India chose one of the black soil varieties and got the two ends of pitch (in front of the batter) scoured to the extent it desired, and yet got the taste of its own medicine in the third Test at the Holkar Stadium, Indore. It appears that a pitch of the red soil make-up was the initial preferred choice of the home team, but people privy to what goes on between the team management and the State association said that a black soil that deters consistent bounce was ordered to be prepared four days before the start of the Test. It was on a pitch of like texture that India dictated terms in Nagpur and New Delhi, but the team that was vanquished there hit back and outplayed India in the end by nine wickets.  Pitches in India have always been tinkered with to suit its spin-strength with the ultimate aim of winning the home series. The last Test will be played at Motera in Ahmedabad, where the prime ministers of the two countries will be in attendance on March 9. The pattern of the black soil pitch is likely to be pursued for yet another time in the last Test. Two years ago England lost two Test matches in five days at Motera in Ahmedabad, but Australia turned out to be a tough customer in Indore and it will be tough to beat now in the series-ending match in Ahmedabad.
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Who Will Be BCCI Senior Selector No 5?

The Chetan Sharma episode is done and dusted with the former India fast bowler turned national selector chucking away a handsome salary of well over Rs 1 crore. Into his second month of his third year as Chairman of the selection committee, Sharma spoke about confidential matters related to the national team and players to a private channel and got punished; he was compelled to quit. After the 2008 BCCI AGM the selectors have been paid and made more accountable. Former players began to covet the selector’s post because there were ample rewards. Sharma’s resignation has reduced the selection panel to four members and the BCCI has not started the process of filling up the fifth post. Three years ago the BCCi had to petition the Supreme Court to restore the composition of the selection committee to five from the three proposed by the Lodha Committee and endorsed by the Court. The selectors are appointed by the BCCI upon receiving recommendation from its Cricket Advisory Committee. The other selectors are Shiv Sundar Das, Sridharan Sharath, Subroto Banerjee and Salil Ankola.  There will be a number of aspirants from North Zone to fill the vacancy caused by Sharma’s exit. Recently the BCCI carried on with four selectors after Abey Kuruvilla ceased to be a selector because of the rules and regulations related to the term of office.
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The Million Dollar Question: Will KL Rahul Play In Indore?

Wll KL Rahul get captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahil Dravid’s nod for the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, set to start in Indore on March 1? This is a million dollar question that is weighing in the minds of the cricket faithful with the four Test series going through a lull because of a long break after India closed out the second Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla inside three days. Rahul has opened for India in 75 innings, scored 2551 runs for an average of 34.95, but the numbers had dipped to 17.13 in 2021 and further declined to 12.67 in two Tests against Australia this year. The poor numbers over a span of six Tests had set off strong opinions against his inclusion for the last two Tests. But the team management is looking at his 2021 average which is a high 46.10 with two centuries. Sharma and Dravid believe in giving proven and new players a good run to be judged, and that Rahul has been included for the Tests at Indore and Ahmedabad is an indication of the team management’s faith in the out-of-form opener. Rahul could also be part of the team should India qualify for the ICC Test Championship final to be played in the UK where he scored 149 at The Oval and 129 at Lord’s in the 2021 series.


Hats Off to Jaydev Unadkat For Not Taking Eye Off The Ball

Jaydev Unadkat led by example for Saurashtra to win the coveted Ranji Trophy for the second time in three seasons. It’s a fitting tribute to his unyielding attitude — in addition to the skillsets he has acquired as a seamer, and leadership qualities too — that saw him play the pivotal role in the final played against Bengal at the Eden Gardens. The BCCI released him from the India squad after the Nagpur Test against Australia and Unadkat responded in a remarkable manner taking nine wickets in the title match; virtually cleaning up the Bengal batting line up on the fourth day with a spectacular 6 for 85. Ignored for long after he made his Test debut against South Africa at the Centurion in December 2010, Unadkat toiled for the next 12 years in the domestic circuit; and he could no longer be overlooked after he bagged 122 wickets in season 2018-19 and 2019-20. And this season he has taken 43 wickets in the Ranji Trophy to take his overall first class tally to 382 wickets. Truly, it has been a Herculean effort by the left arm seamer. Recently he staged a Test comeback after 12 years, against Bangladesh at Mirpur. As expected, 31-year old Unadkat is back in the Indian team for the third and fourth Tests against Australia. Unadkat has shown that commitment and effort will not go unrewarded. Hats off to him!
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Mumbai Cricket Association's Thumbs Up For Women's League, But It Should Do Much More For Cricket!

The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) deserves a pat on its back for conducting a four-team women’s league with seven matches being played under lights at the Wankhede Stadium. Mumbai is the winner of the Ranji Trophy for 41 times, and for long, it has been the powerhouse in Indian cricket; the India captain Rohit Sharma is from Mumbai. That the MCA has taken the lead in putting in place a Women’s League — that can only expand in the future — points to a positive thinking by its Apex Council steered by its President Amol Kale and Secretary Ajinkya Naik. An initiative for a defray of around Rs 5 lakh, plus the prize money, is no big deal for MCA, but the lead it has taken has the potential to cause ripple effects in India. Established and budding talents in and around the Mumbai Metropolitan Region played in the inaugural league; now the MCA must walk the extra mile and become proactive in spreading the game to schools and colleges. It is also not too late to explore the feasibility of founding a multi-day league for the top clubs, to start with, for men. This will sustain the supply line for the Ranji Trophy tournament. An annual contract for its senior men’s team would also be in order. The MCA should not dilly-dally this financial aspect that provides security to the uncapped players.
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Ashwin & Jadeja Continue Their Successful Run With 100 Plus Wickets Against Australia

For over a decade Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have teased and taunted batters and turned out to be stellar performers with the ball. Both finger spinners of the off-break and orthodox left arm variety, have stamped their class against Australia in a home series. Ashwin had 50 Australian scalps before the start of the first Test at Nagpur and Jadeja, 49 for a total of 99 in eight matches of the 2012-13 and 2016-2017 series. On Thursday (Feb 9), Jadeja sporting a ponytail on his return to Test cricket after seven months, plotted the downfall of five Australian batters and Ashwin mopped up three to take their tally past the 100-plus mark against visitors from the antipodes. These two are now 41 wickets away from Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble’s combined collection of 148 wickets against Australia at home. Ashwin and Jadeja will get a chance to bridge the gap in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Ashwin had crossed Kapil Dev’s record of 434 wickets in his 85th Test and on the first day of his 89th Test, he crossed the 450 wicket mark. He and Jadeja have proved to be the most effective pair after Ashwin and left arm spinner Pragyan Ojha took a bucketfull of wickets in home conditions. The success of Ashwin and Jadeja will determine India’s passage to the ICC World Test Championship final.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.