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Praful Patel

Is Committee Of Administrators A Solution For Sports Federations?

Almost six years ago the Supreme Court of India found a way to set things right at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Following alleged malpractices in the IPL, the Apex Court appointed a Committee of Administrators (COA) to run the BCCI’s day-to-day affairs. The BCCI is still not convinced with certain reforms in cricket as recommended by former CJI RM Lodha; but in recent times the Courts — the Apex Court and the Delhi High Court have probably taken the cue from the BCCI case to sort out administrative and other matters at the All India Football Federation, Hockey India, and the National Federations of Table Tennis and Judo. In the year of the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, England, the Courts have appointed COAs to make the federations compliant with the National Sports Code and “clean the administration” as described by a senior sports administrator. A couple of big guns — Praful Patel of the AIFF and Narendra Batra of the Indian Olympic Association — were unseated following the Court orders. Amidst all the hullabaloo around the maladministration of the sports bodies, a former table tennis player of repute, wondered whether the COA is the right way and solution to bring integrity in the functioning of the national sports federations.  Well, as of now, it’s like telling us: Like it or lump it!
Edgar Su

Clash Of Titans: Djoker Stands Between Rafa And Calendar Slam

Tennis’ great rivalry is set to resume at Wimbledon with Rafael Nadal, the champion with 22 Grand Slams, and Novak Djokovic seeded at the top to meet only in the final. Their quarter final at the French Open was a match for the ages in which Djokovic bowed to Nadal’s supremacy on clay. On grass, it will be a different Djokovic who could deny Nadal the greatest quest of his career of a calendar Grand Slam as the Australian and French Open winner of 2022 sniffs at a chance he has rarely had in his career. His 22 Grand Slams are weighted in favour of clay at 14 but he has two Wimbledon titles suggesting he can master the fastest of the four different surfaces too. Of course, Djokovic, the last player to come within a title of the calendar Grand Slam but was to be denied by Medvedev in 2021 when he was beaten in the U.S. Open, boasts of seven Wimbledon titles in his collection of 20. Nadal said after his French Open win that tennis was a passionate pursuit at which he also won titles but Djokovic is known to chase the record of Grand Slams. It will be 2022’s greatest match if the two gladiators get to the final.
Smitha Harikrishna

WC Batter-Bowler Smitha Harikrishna Won't Get BCCI's Monthly Gratis

A substantial increase in the monthly gratis announced by the BCCI for retired cricketers has brought joy to all of them. The Indian Cricketers Association (ICA) whose representatives — Anushman Gaekwad and Shanta Rangaswamy — are in the Apex Council of the BCCI conveyed its happiness to Jay Shah (Secretary, BCCI); some cricketers took to Facebook and Twitter outlets to thank Shah, but there is one unhappy soul — Karnataka’s Smitha Harikrishna — who is left wondering why she was given the go bye by her fraternity and the BCCI whose President is former India captain Sourav Ganguly. Smitha played 22 one day internationals from 1995 to 2000, 13 matches of which were in World Cups held in 1997 in India and in New Zealand. Those who argue for Smitha’s genuine grievance say that if those who have played only one Test (before the cut-off date of December 2004) can get Rs 30,000 a month, why is Smitha being discriminated against. Initially the BCCI took a policy decision to consider monthly gratis to women players who have played upwards of five Tests on or before December 31, 2004, but the Supreme Court appointed of Administrators extended the benefit to those who played even one Test match, leaving one day specialist Smitha in tears. The increase in monthly gratis payment has only compounded her woes.
IPL

Casper.Fandom

IPL's $5.6 Billion Valuation Makes BCCI Bosses Feeling Richie '$$$' Rich!

One cannot grudge the BCCI functionaries if they feel like the fictional character Richie Rich, whose net worth was once valued at $25 billion. The fact is that the prime cricket property in the world with a famous acronym IPL — a Twenty20 tournament conducted by the BCCI — has been screaming about having crossed the $5.6 billion mark valuation; a far cry from the Richie Rich valuation and what the ideator of the tournament, Lalit Modi had predicted; between $8 to 10 billion for the 2023-27 period. But the BCCI top brass must be pleased as punch with Rs 47,000 crore valuation of the tournament that in 2008 was put in place by business tycoons from the textile, oil, beverages, real estate, cement, media, pharmaceutical, airport industry and celebrities from the tinsel town.  SONY Sports held the media rights for the first 10 years at Rs 8,200 crore plus and Star Sports held it for the last five season cycle for Rs 16,347 crore plus. And now the successful bidders for the 2023-27 cycle,  reported to be Star Sports for television and the Ambanis driven Viacom18 for digital, have to shell out Rs 4,750 crore and Rs 4,100 crore to the BCCI for each of the next five seasons. The BCCI’s Jay Shah and Brijesh Patel have every right to feel like Richie Rich!
Meethali raj

Twitter

With Time Up On Her, Mithali Raj Calls It Quits!

Mithali Raj put an end to all speculation regarding future appearances wearing the India colours by announcing retirement from international cricket. Into her 40th year, it was time to move on for the prima donna of the national team after 23 years of playing Test, one-day internationals and Twenty20 cricket. Mithali took to Twitter to inform fans that she was bidding adieu to the game; her declaration coming a few hours before the BCCI announced Harmanpreet Kaur as captain of the Indian team for the white ball series (ODIs and Twenty20) in Sri Lanka. These two events happening one after another, sent the rumour mill on a spin with whispers that she may have been elbowed out. Mithali’s last assignment as India captain was the failed campaign in the ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. Her team lost four league matches and could not enter the semi-finals. For over a decade she had shouldered the task of scoring runs until Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana arrived on the scene, exhibiting lovely stroke play that riveted attention on them in domestic and international cricket. Then came Jemima Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol, Richa Ghosh and Yastika Bhatia; all of whom went after the ball and sent pulses racing. But the famous ‘Didi’ of Indian women’s cricket cannot be denied her exalted place in the pantheon of women’s cricket in the world.
Indian_Premier_League_Official_Logo

IPL LOGO

Top Broadcasters Vie For Piece Of IPL Media Rights Pie, As BCCI Reaches For The Sky

The 15th season of the Indian Premier League concluded and with it, global media rights secured by Star India for Rs 16,347 crore for five seasons from 2018. SONY Pictures had won the first 10-year media rights for around Rs.8200 crore in 2008. Fifteen years back Lalit Modi, chief architect of the trailblazing Twenty20 league, monetised the franchise auctions and media rights for astronomical figures. The refrain in the ad world today is “sky’s the limit” for the next IPL media rights 2023-27 (in four categories) as IPL is the most premium product for advertisers now. “The IPL became a premium product after the first 10 seasons. Today corporate first set aside money for IPL, before considering other options. There are a number of them. The IPL is the pivot for broadcasting companies as a whole, not just their sports channels,” explained a doyen in the media rights business. The BCCI has pegged a high reserve price of Rs 32,890 crore for all four categories together. There are reports that TV18-Viacom, Disney Star, Sony, Zee and Amazon have bought the invitation for tenders. NP Singh, CEO & MD of SONY Pictures feels the need for a reality check on the reserve price following a drop in viewership for IPL-15. The weekend e- auction of media rights will quantify the windfall BCCI will reap.
Motorcade for Hardik

The Captain Hardik Pandya Transformation, Leading Him Towards Team India Coronation?

The campaign began after Hardik Pandya emulated Shane Warne, taking his debutant team to the final and winning the IPL. He is now tipped as a future Team India white ball captain. It’s not only his star turn with bat and ball that was impressive. His zen-like calm as skipper throughout the season was also notable, though he lost it when Shubman Gill declined a third run, and he was left facing a Warne-like ripper that pitched outside leg stump and spat as it spun to catch his outside edge. But, as Gill anchored the chase to a triumphant finish, it was well-deserved coronation time for Pandya. Controversy was his middle name as the tattoo-loving admirer and owner of the most expensive watches was once suspended for a sexist comment during a celebrity TV interview. Captaincy transformed him into a studious, responsible leader who has curbed his flamboyance to contribute meaningful contributions. Having faced the axe from Team India for not being able to bowl through a painful phase following back injury, Hardik worked his way back and bowled at close to 140 kmph in IPL to make his point. He was in winning teams four times before but, the 2022 win was special and it has spurred his ambition to contribute to Team India well enough to break a 11-year World Cup drought.
Hardik Pandya with IPL Trophy

Gujarat Titans

Tendulkar Joins The Hardik Pandya's Hurrah Parade, After Gujarat Titans Captain's Great IPL Escapade

The IPL Twenty20 competition is a different ball game from turning up for India duties. Performances in the most popular league may be put down as a flash in the pan but, Hardik Pandya, not long back known for his bling fetish, has refreshingly improved his excellent run of form in the TATA IPL-15; as a batter, bowler, fielder and now, as captain. Hardik’s makeover was applauded by his former Mumbai Indians icon Sachin Tendulkar on his Youtube show #SachInsightT20. “It has to be celebrated, Hardik has been a stand-out as a Number 4 batter and captain. He has outsmarted the opposition,” said the former master blaster. Hardik was the Titans’ highest run getter with 487 runs and chief wicket-taker in the title match. What’s so significant about these numbers is the manner in which he exhibited his gifts all through the tournament. In the final he broke the back of Rajasthan Royals taking 3 for 18 and chipping in with a weighty 34 runs with his bat. Hardik is being dubbed as a hero now, but his true test will come up against a strong South African Twenty20 team that will lock horns with KL Rahul’s team from June 9 in five matches. Hardik is a genuine talent though. The Indian team would hope that his lower back doesn’t flare up again!
Rajat Patidar

Photo Credit: RCB Instagram

Discarded At Player Auctions, Rajat Patidar Plays RCB Match Winner, @ Just Rs 20 Lakh

Rejected outright by all 10 franchises at the big player auction for the Tata IPL-15 in Bengaluru, Indore-born batter Rajat Patidar proved how the talent scouts hunting for gifted players were wrong in their assessment of his class and calibre. Even the United Spirits owned Royal Challengers Bangalore, which played him in four matches in season 2021 did not have a second look at him at the auction. But ‘kismet’ has its own ways to bring luck for a player. RCB chose the Madhya Pradesh bombarder as a replacement for the injured Luvnith Sisodia after the league had got off the ground and RCB had lost two matches. Being an uncapped player (not played for India in any format), the CTC to the Bangalore franchise was a meagre Rs 20 lakh. Patidar showed glimpses of his hitting ability in six matches before blasting away to glory with a 54 ball unconquered 112 with 7x6s and 5x4s. The Return of Investment on a start-up like player was humongous; the RCB eliminated the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group owned Lucknow Super Giants from the playoffs and got within striking distance of the title match. Former England captain and a busybee on Twitter, Michael Vaughan, described Patidar’s match-winning knock as: “Talk about producing when it really counts…incredible.”  A discard at the IPL auction, Patidar became overnight famous with a gem of a knock.
Dinesh Karthik

BCCI/IPL

Gavaskar Wants DK As Batter In Indian T20 World Cup Team, Little Master Endorses Kartik’s Classy Form, His World Cup Dream!

Dinesh Karthik has thrown his hat in the ring for a place in the Indian team for the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 in the Australian summer this year. The smart stumper from Chennai is 36 and the selectors — all bowlers — believe that the keeper-batter who has played in two Twenty20 World Cups in 2007 and 2010, and scored 57 runs in five innings for an average of 11.40 has to be put on trial again for the big event Down Under. Karthik played his last Twenty20 international in February 2019.  He has now been selected for the five match Twenty20 series against South Africa to be played at five cities from June 9. Rishabh Pant is in the squad as first ‘keeper and vice-captain to KL Rahul and so Karthik will play as a specialist batter. None other than Sunil Gavaskar pushed his case saying: “Form is important. They say form is temporary and class is permanent and if a classy player is in form, then you must pick him. The way he is batting currently he should be considered and included as a pure batter and wicket-keeping should be an added option. Don’t think about his age.” For Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL-15, Karthik scored 177 @no7 in seven innings with a strike rate of 11 plus an over.
India's Nikhat Zareen poses with coach Bhaskar Bhatt after winning gold medal at the 12th IBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Istanbul on Thursday, May 19, 2022

Boxer Nikhat Zareen with coach Bhaskar Bhatt

Nikhat Zareen’s Deadly Punches Land Her The Title, Wins $100,000 Cash Prize, The Lass Has Proven Her Mettle

Every punch landed just right for Nikhat Zareen in Istanbul, Turkey. At only 25-years-old, she punched her way to glory, scoring 5 -0 jury verdicts in all five bouts to win the gold medal and a cool $ 100,000 (Rs 77.52 lakh) cash prize. The young pugilist from Nizamabad, Telangana was not allowed to compete in a trial bout with the more famous Mary Kom prior to the Tokyo Olympics. She has proved her mettle now within the flyweight category (50-52 kg) at the International Boxing Association organized Women’s World Boxing Championships held in Istanbul. Since 2011, when she won the World Junior Women’s Gold at Antalya, Turkey, she had secured financial support from entrepreneur Jaithirth “Jerry” Rao. “Jerry is also supporting Maharashtra’s upcoming woman boxer Alfiya Pathan. More corporations and individuals must support boxing. Now, Nikhat should compete in both the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year and the Asian Games in China (postponed because of the pandemic),” said a happy Kishan Narsi, former international referee-judge and technical expert. Nikhat, who beat boxers from Mexico, Mongolia, England, Brazil and Thailand to win $100,000 in prize money was introduced at the World meet in Belgrade (Serbia) last year. Two other Indian women Parveen and Manisha won bronze medals and a cash prize of $25,000 each (Rs 19 lakh).
SAI

Sports Ministry’s Four-Year Investment In Badminton Yields Rich Dividends, As India Lifts Thomas Cup

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) can take credit for the Indian men’s badminton team’s trailblazing Thomas Cup win, prevailing over Asian giants like Malaysia and Indonesia and the European powerhouse, Denmark. The SAI, which has been proactive and hands-on supporting sports federations and Elite Athletes, is an Independent organisation under the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Over the last four years, it had funded badminton to the tune of Rs 67.19 crore, in particular for the men and women players’ training and competitions overseas. In the last 12 months the SAI defrayed the cost of 14 international exposure tournaments, Rs 4.5 crore, to the Elite players. The SAI also engaged foreign coaches for the singles and doubles players. Soon after the win in Bangkok, the SAI said: “The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports has contributed to the unprecedented success of the team… A 10-week National Camp in January helped raise the fitness levels of the players. The support to engage Mathias Boe as coach to assist the doubles combinations has been significant as well.” Former All England men’s singles winner and Chief National Coach Pullela Gopichand — who along with the legendary Prakash Padukone are responsible for popularising the game — told shortpost.in that he is optimistic of the SAI extending support to the junior players. A big shabash to the SAI for providing succour to Indian sport and its athletes.
HS PRANNOY

Shuttler Prannoy Records Indian History, Places India On Cusp Of Thomas Cup Glory!

H S Prannoy is the talk of the town. This 1.78 m tall shuttlecock player has placed India on the verge of a historic Thomas Cup glory. “Should India win the title in Bangkok come Sunday (May 15), it would be akin to India winning the 1983 cricket World Cup,” said Sanjay Sharma who played under Indian legend Prakash Padukone in the 1979 Thomas Cup in Kuala Lumpur. Prannoy got a direct entry into the men’s team. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) selection committee naturally chose players up to the Top 15 world rankings for the direct entry category, but made an exception in the case of 29-year-old Prannoy, ranked 23. The BAI General Secretary Sanjay Mishra said: “Since he has performed consistently at top international events, and also beat top players consistently, he was considered for selection directly, without having to participate in the trials.” And how well has the Thiruvananthapuram born Prannoy responded to the selectors’ call? Despite an ankle injury he downed Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke in the semi-final tie and Malaysia’s Jun Hao Leong earlier, in the quarter-finals. This after after Kidambi Srikanth and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty had done the spadework. Indonesia will be a tough nut to crack, and the boys coached by Padukone, Pullela Gopichand and Uday Pawar need all the luck to take India past the finishing line.
07raman-dhoni

CSK’s Blames Captaincy Change Fiasco On High-Profile Market Guru Imported From Mumbai Indians

As the blame game comes to a close, defending champions in IPL-15, the Chennai Super Kings team thinks on its way forward. The confusion over captaincy and bidding around it that went haywire with the franchise seeking Dinesh Karthik and Shreyas Iyer for an interim period to take over from Dhoni is being attributed to high-profile marketing guru who was imported from Mumbai Indians. Unwilling to pay an exorbitant price for a new captain, CSK stuck with Ravindra Jadeja, an experiment that was a big flop because Jadeja lacked the urban, communicative qualities needed to be a leader. In order to stop any erosion of its billion-dollar valuation, CSK has swung right back to Dhoni, who has indicated that he will continue to lead the team till a settled succession plan is put in place. In any case, Dhoni will not retire from the arena without playing a match in his favourite city of Chennai and is expected to be in the saddle for IPL 2023 also. The franchise avers that there is nothing wrong with their links with Jadeja as a player and that he is free to stay and recover from the disappointment of having the captaincy taken from him. Dhoni remains the key to their immediate future plans and he is able and willing.
BCCI

BCCI Uses Indigenous Talent, Little Third Party Engagement, Saves Rs 35 Crore In IPL-15 Entertainment

The BCCI has pulled out all stops to run the Tata IPL-15 without engaging a third party. Barring a few players catching the Covid-19 bug that necessitated relocation of venues for two matches featuring the Delhi Capitals, the league has gone on without a glitch. From 2008 to 2020, the high-end revenue generating Twenty20 competition was supervised by the IMG, the New York-based sports management company. The BCCI parted ways with it at the conclusion of the 13th season in the UAE. The financial agreement with the agency had run into problems in 2008, before it was reworked to Rs 27 crore per season. The agreement was revised in 2017 with an augmented fee. “It’s an achievement. No doubt about it. The IMG had engaged a few of its own officials and many Indians. The BCCI has engaged perhaps the same local talent to run the show and saved Rs 35 plus crore,” said a former BCCI functionary. The BCCI paid a compensation of around Rs 100 crore to the Emirates Cricket Board (in 2020) and a little less last year. It has committed to pay Rs 60 lakh per match to the four associations (Mumbai, Maharashtra, Cricket Club of India, and DY Patil); and the compensation money adds to Rs 42 crore as host fee. All good for the faithful in India.
Wankhede-Stadium-Twitter

With Covid On The Ebb, T20 Pandemic Will Spread, To Five Indian Metro Hubs

Indian cricket is all set to return to normalcy with the BCCI allotting the five match Twenty20 internationals against South Africa to five affiliated associations of Delhi, Odisha (Cuttack), Andhra Pradesh (Visakhapatnam), Saurashtra (Rajkot) and Bengaluru. The series will be played from June 9 to 19.  For the first time in two years, famished cricket fans in the four cities (excluding Bengaluru) will get to see the Indian stars in action in their own backyard. The BCCI will begin fiscal 2022-2023 with a revenue between Rs 450 and Rs 500 crore, and the associations too, will make money out of in-stadia advertising. However, a matter of high import pertains to the selectors picking a Rohit Sharma led team along with Head Coach Rahul Dravid and fixing a few niggles before the Asia Cup Twenty20 in Sri Lanka and the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 slated for the Australian summer. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the white ball home series has been held in Ahmedabad (5 against England and 3 against the West Indies), in Pune (3 against England) in Kolkata (1 against New Zealand and 3 against the West Indies), and Lucknow (1 against Sri Lanka) and Dharamsala (2 against Sri Lanka).  Now its Bharat darshan for the teams, but nevertheless, good news for cricket fans!
Dhoni NS

Mahi Back At The Helm Of CSK’s Billion Dollar Ship, Could Still Make Playoffs, Pleasing Sponsors TVS Eurogrip

Super Kings and that brought about a stunning transformation in the body language of the team. Unlike Mumbai Indians, CSK were never out of a mathematical chance to still make the playoffs. With 8 points in the kitty, after five games, they still have potential to reach 16 points. Early season debacles were owed to very conservative bidding at the player auctions, where reps of ‘Srini Mama’ and his daughter Rupa were apparently inert and hardly picked up players of high value.  The change of captaincy, effected after the deal was signed, had offended the main sponsor TVS Eurogrip, who had shelled out Rs 100 crore. Miffed at the change in captaincy, and a lacklustre Ravindra Jadeja not looking the part to rev up the team, they pressured Srinivasan to bring back Dhoni as captain. Srini was concerned about any possible drop in valuation of the team, currently rated at around $1 billion, and impact on future sponsorships. There was only one way out of the impasse, bringing Dhoni back to the helm. CSK may or may not make it to the playoffs but they look like a competitive team now. The fans are mighty pleased and the sponsors are happy.
BCCI

After Covid Lull BCCI Is On Cricket Tourney Spree, Domestic Players Earn A Good Living Vying For Ranji Trophy

The BCCI deserves a pat on the back after conducting domestic cricket tournaments this year. Last year, it could not due to the Covid pandemic. This year, however, BCCI ensured domestic cricketers found opportunities to play and earn a livelihood. Applauding the BCCI initiative, former GM, Game Development, BCCI, Prof Ratnakar Shetty said: “The decision to conduct the Ranji Trophy, although with a revised format, was a welcome decision by the BCCI. It provides a platform for budding talent and also badly needed monetary help to first class cricketers.”  Since 2003, when the BCCI resolved to share 26% of a certain portion of its annual income with cricketers — 13% each to the national and domestic cricketers — India’s consistently performing first class cricketers playing for the Ranji Trophy and other senior tournaments earned over Rs 20 lakh per season. The annual outgo now for the national men’s team was in excess of Rs 100 crore. The senior teams (men and women) receive an annual retainership. But the sheer size of domestic cricketers — the ballpark figure is between 800 and 1000 cricketers — makes the overall sum disbursed to them much higher. So, this year, it’s not only the cash cow IPL the BCCI is conducting, but also the Ranji Trophy, the bread-and-butter tournament for domestic cricketers.
Umran-malik_BCCI

Photo : BCCI/IPL

Great Call By The SunRisers' Marans To Retain Umran Malik In Team, With Imminent Call Up Jammu Express Is Living Indian WC T20 Dream

SunRisers Hyderabad’s prospects of advancing to the Tata IPL-15 playoffs will be known within the week or, thereabouts. It ought to have forced a win against Gujarat Titans at Wankhede Stadium the other night but caved in, to the pyrotechnic batting displayed by Rahul Tewatia and Afghan spinner Rashid Khan, to get placed 3rd on the points’ table, with five wins and 10 points. It was a skirmish that once again focused the spotlight on budding fast bowler Umran Malik, who took his first fifer in any competition. Hats off to the franchise’s conscious decision taken last December to retain the virtual unknown, from Sunjwan — a village on the outskirts of Gujjar town in Jammu Union Territory. The SunRisers’ advisors Muttiah Muralitharan and Tom Moody had articulated Malik’s retention as an investment for the future. Their decision is reaping rich rewards for the franchise owner, Kavya Maran, who proactively placed bids at player auctions for IPL-15 held in Bengaluru. Malik’s potential (he had replaced indisposed left armer T Natarajan last year) and now, after only 8 matches this IPL season, he is already primed for an India call-up because of bowling speeds at 150 kmph. He has scalped 15 batters so far from 8 IPL-15 games with a four-wicket haul and a fifer. Great call by the Marans to retain Malik at Rs 4 crore.
KLRahul_Rohit_Sharma

LSG Captain KL Rahul’s Method Batting Is Just Fine, As MI Opener Rohit Sharma Fails To Shine As T20 World Cup Looms

Stylish opener KL Rahul has been playing like a true professional in the Tata IPl-15. Rahul and Rohit Sharma were the victims of Pakistan left arm seamer Shaheen Afridi in the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 last year in Dubai. Six months later both are using the IPL with 14 league matches to fine tune their game — facing the new ball at the start — for the next edition of the World Twenty20 in the Australian summer. While Sharma has come a cropper, unable to steer his team Mumbai Indians to a single win in eight matches, Rahul has scored two methodical centuries — 103 each — both against Sharma’s team. Former India Head Coach Ravi Shastri had predicted that Rahul could be in the running for the Orange Cup given to the highest aggregate scorer in the league. Shastri told Star Sports:  “He’s got a solid all-round game, the technique is good, he’s got all the shots, great temperament, and good presence of mind. The responsibility of leading a new franchise (Lucknow Super Giants) is getting the best out of him.” Rahul is a rock solid opener who understands the importance of his contribution to the team that has been weighty. His three figure knocks have helped his team, Sanjiv Goenka’s LSG win and put it on the road to a playoffs berth.
rohit-sharma_Bcci

Photo : bcci.tv

Rohit Sharma’s Uphill Drive As Captain India, Heads Into Downhill Dive With Mumbai Indians!

After an initial high in the home internationals against West Indies and Sri Lanka — 11 wins — Rohit Sharma experienced the painful disappointment of being beaten in every game Mumbai Indians (MI) has played in the Tata IPL-15 so far. He now joins the notorious group of captains who have lost seven matches in a row in the high-profile Twenty20 competition. The India captain, across all formats and, who has won five IPL titles for MI has lost seven straight matches in IPL-15. Sharma though finds company in the same league with Adam Gilchrist (Deccan Chargers, 2008), Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2018-19), George Bailey (Kings XI Punjab/Punjab Kings, 2015), Yuvraj Singh (Pune Warriors, 2011) and Mahela Jayawardena (Delhi Capitals, 2013-14). But there are captains who have lost eight, nine and eleven matches in a row. Sourav Ganguly (Pune Warriors, 2012-13) and Kevin Pietersen (Delhi Capitals, 2014-15) tops the list with eleven defeats in a row.  Brendan McCullum (Kolkata Knight Riders, 2009) and Angelo Mathews (Pune Warriors, 2013) have lost nine in a row and Virender Sehwag (Delhi Capitals, 2012-13) has lost eight in row.  With seven more to go MI will win a match or two on the way, but it looks like it’s curtains for MI in so far as the play-off qualification is concerned.
chahal_BCCi

Photo : bcci.tv

Yuzvendra Chahal Aces Kolkata Knight Riders With A Hat-Trick And 5/40

Leg spin is the most difficult art of bowling — being unorthodox in style when juxtaposed with the conventional finger spinner — but they are wicket takers and match winners in the most difficult circumstances. India’s premiere leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal saw lady luck smile on him while plotting Rajasthan Royals’ victory against the Kolkata Knight Riders much against the run of play. He became the fifth leg spinner in the Twenty20 league after Amit Mishra (a phenomenal three times; for Hyderabad v Pune, DD v Deccan Chargers and for Deccan Chargers v Mohali), Shreyas Gopal (for RR v RCB), Samuel Badree (for RCB v MI) and Pravin Tambe (for RR v KKR) to perform the magic feat. Chahal got rid of Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Mavi and Pat Cummins to provide the 21st instance of a hat trick in the TATA IPL-15. This feat had eluded him at the start of the tournament when he flummoxed Mumbai Indian’s Tim David and Daniel Sams after which substitute Karun Nair dropped Murugan Ashwin at slip. With his first 5 wicket haul against KKR, he is all set to go past the fourth placed Piyush Chawla’s 157 victims in the competition. The leg spinner did the trick for Chahal not the googly!  ‘I had to take wickets”, the RR hero said of his 17th over tour de force!
Hardik-Pandya_002

Photo : Gujarat Titans

Hardik Pandya’s Titanic Knock Wins The Day, Regains Fan Base As Gujarat Titan’s Anthem Plays "Aava De"

Hardik Pandya has won more admirers in the last three weeks. The reason is his overall commitment to batting, bowling, fielding and leadership of Gujarat Titans in the Tata IPL-15. The new team has surprised the discerning, winning four of its five league matches to be placed on the pedestal. After its win against the Rajasthan Royals on Thursday (April 14), the Titans have eight points, thanks to Hardik’s brilliant unbeaten 87 off only 52 balls. He dropped anchor and also sprayed shots at the DY Patil Stadium as the Titans reached a match winning score of 192 for four. Hardik has been in such a good nick with the bat that he is only second (with 228 runs) behind Orange Cap holder Jos Buttler (272 runs). Captaincy has indeed brought about a transformation in his overall game. He was declared the man of the match after leading his team to a 37-run win. Hardik is plain lucky that the BCCI added two more franchises and one of these turned out to be from Gujarat which retained him and made him the captain. And the team anthem, “Aava De“, seems to be gelling well with his character. Not very long-ago Hardik saw his fan base eroding but, he has used the Gujarat Titans and IPL to regain ground simply, leading by example.
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Who Dangled Chahal From The 15th Floor Balcony?

Yuzvendra Chahal says he was dangled from a 15th-floor hotel balcony by a heavily drunk fellow player during the IPL in 2013. The incident took place during a get-together when the loquacious leg-spinner was a Mumbai Indian. The buzz in Indian cricket is, while many in the know are aware of who the character is, no one wants to say it in public lest the player involved take offence. The player is also a pretty big personality in Team India today and taking his name might be problematic as some voices have already been raised saying the said “bully” should be banned from cricket. It was a party prank but a very scary one for the “victim” who said, “I was holding on to him, with my arms around his neck. If I had lost my grip, we were on the 15th floor… had there been a small mistake there, I would have fallen down.” The player had fainted at the prospect of hitting the ground from that height. The spinner has named others who played milder pranks on him when he was a Mumbai Indian but the perpetrator of the major incident could not be named as he is at the top of the totem pole now. A guess as to the major player’s identity is allowed.
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BCCI Big Boss Jay Shah Inducted Into ICC Men's Cricket Committee; All Eyes On November ICC Chairman Elections

The recent fuss around the independent chair position in the International Cricket Council (ICC) fizzled out into non-event at the quarterly ICC Board meeting in Dubai. Rumours were rife that a couple of BCCI officials were in the race for the top ICC position. But the news came from the ICC HQ that the incumbent independent chairman Greg Barclay who took charge in November 2020 will continue to complete his first two year term; that’s till the Men’s World Twenty20 in Australia this October- November. With him set to carry on, a peculiar process overseen by the chair of the ICC’s independent audit committee to identify the new chair has been put off by seven months. Normally the ICC election takes place at its annual conference in July, but after Shashank Manohar chose not to go for the third two-year term and stepped down from office on July 1, 2020, the  lack of a unanimous choice immediately thereafter resulted in Barclay being elected. And that’s presumably the reason the New Zealander has been asked to stay till this November. Or is it because clarity will emerge in September when the BCCI, post the election of its office bearers, will be able to pitchfork its candidate! There were good tidings at the Dubai meeting for Jay Shah, the BCCI Secretary was made the Full Member representative in the prestigious ICC Men’s Cricket Committee.
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Photo : IPLT20.com

Tata IPL-15 Slow To Pick Up Interest For All Teams In Mumbai

The build up to the Tata IPL-15 had positive vibes. For the first time since 2020, the BCCI’s prestigious and cash cow Twenty20 tournament is being held in India and in a single State (Maharashtra). It was an excellent decision on the part of the BCCI to engage the Maharashtra government to schedule the 70 match league at four venues taking into account the pandemic situation. But after 15 matches it has been observed that interest among the cricket fans has not met with expectations. The league started on March 26 with permission for 25% capacity attendance and from April 6 the BCCI allowed 50% attendance. But the surfeit of matches in Mumbai (at the Wankhede, Brabourne and at Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil) has not enthused the IPL faithful. Matches featuring Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings have appealed to the cricket fanatics, but the turnstiles have not seen expected footfalls for other matches. Pune appears to be an exception though, with 18084 turning up for the MI versus KKR match on April 6 and when Pat Cummins went berserk with the bat. With another 55 league matches to be played before the four-team play offs from May 24/25 to May 29 people are keeping their fingers crossed. An official of the Mumbai Cricket Association said: “Hopefully the cricket fans would begin to throng the IPL venues soon”.
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Qatar's FIFA World Cup '22 Sells Out 800,000 Tickets Online

No wonder, football — the game once played and advertised by the likes of the greats Pele and Maradona and these days by Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to provide plenty of entertainment and thrill– is called the “Beautiful Game” on the planet. And no wonder that over 800,000 tickets were sold online for the FIFA World Cup to be held in Doha, Qatar in November-December. As the FIFA chief, the Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino said before the draw recently, the World Cup at Doha would be unique because all eight venues will be within a 50 km distance. Football crazy fans living in Qatar, USA, England, Mexico and the UAE have picked up the majority of the 800,000 tickets. The second online sale of tickets (after the draw) opened on April 5. India’s football fans have been match specific and have bought tickets because Doha is only three and a half hours by plane. For the first time FIFA’s premier competition is going to be held in the Arab world and Qatar has spent billions of dollars to make it the most memorable event. The football World Cup will follow the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 to be held in October-November in Australia and these two events are going to keep the sports fans across the World glued to the small screens at home. Football though will win the fan following hands down.
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Ukraine-Russia War May Hit Wimbledon’s Centre Courts, As AELTC Considers Ban On Medvedev

Major tennis tours like ATP, WTA and ITF are allowing Russian and Belarussian tennis players to compete without flags or anthems. But Wimbledon, one of four Grand Slams being a private event, is seriously considering a ban on stars like world No 2 Daniil Medvedev and world No 5 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus on the grounds that their victory could boost the Vladimir Putin regime. The legal implications are being considered seriously in the wake of recent images of war crimes on Ukraine’s streets showing up as evidence of the brutal war Russia is waging. The All England Lawn Tennis Club may receive legal advice that private clubs have more freedom to allow or ban players and they would not be subject to the same discrimination laws as the tours. What is the point the tennis fan may be wondering as Russian athletes are so far free to participate in global events as individuals but the UK might wish to take the economic sanctions and sporting bans further because of the war in Ukraine. Wimbledon might find a way out by asking the likes of Medvedev to sign an anti-Putin form and that they are not receiving any money from Putin or Russia or Belarus. Medvedev, like Novak Djokovic, is a resident of Monaco who could now miss two months of tennis due to hernia.
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CSK Rues Deepak Chahar's Injury, Absent Pacer Costs Team Dearly, Losing Two Matches In A Row

Chennai Super Kings is feeling the pinch without seamer Deepak Chahar. Last year CSK thrived on the wicket taking habit of Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Australian Josh Hazelwood. The threesome accounted for 46 scalps in IPL-14 on the pitches of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.  But Chahar is injured and Thakur and Hazelwood are with other franchises. As a consequence of their absence, the four time winner of the league has been beaten in its first two outings of the Tata IPL-15 played in Mumbai. The Chennai team retained Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Moeen Ali and went all out to stop Chahar’s bidding at Rs 14 crore, and it also bought Dwayne Bravo at the auction. Unfortunately Chahar damaged his right quadricep and went into rehab for eight weeks. At the auction, the Parth Jindal owned Delhi Capitals bought Thakur and the United Spirits (of the Diageo Group) owned Royal Challengers Bangalore took Hazelwood.  On Thursday (March 31) night against the new IPL team Lucknow Super Giants at the Brabourne, CSK which made 210, was hit for nine 6s and eighteen 4s, and it lost its second match. West Indian Evin Lewis hammered the CSK bowlers for a 23-ball unbeaten 55. Not a good start for new captain Jadeja, but CSK has the wherewithal to advance to the play-offs.
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Lucknow Super Giants’ Batter Badoni Is Pure Joy For Mentor Gambhir, Even As Team Loses To Gujarat Titans

Gautam Gambhir, BJP MP from East Delhi was at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday (March 28) night watching the TATA IPL-15 debutants’ match between Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and Gujarat Titans (GT) with a keen eye.  After winning the ownership of the team last October paying Rs 7090 crore, Lucknow got the first chance after five months to step on the field with KL Rahul as captain. In a sort of dire straits at 29 for 4, a grim LSG dug out looked upon the tyro from Delhi Ayush Badoni to perform the double act of rescuing it first and then enable it to post a decent total. Some 11 years ago Gambhir had played a similar role in the ICC World Cup final against Sri Lanka making a gritty 97 off 122 balls after which India went on to win the title. Gambhir is the mentor of the team and Badoni delivered some deadly punches to make a 41-ball 54 with four 4s and three 6s. The young right-hander reached 50 with a six after hitting out at rival captain Hardik Pandya. Gambhir was pleased with Badoni’s fine debut, but his team lost to GT, a good start for first time IPL captain Hardik, who did better with the bat than with the ball; the national selectors though wanted him  to excel with the ball.
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IPL Media Rights Will Play Out As A Desperate Money Game Of Thrones For Aspiring Owners

Star Sports’ five-season all-encompassing global television media and digital rights over the glamorous Indian Premier League (IPL) will end at the conclusion of the Tata IPL Season-15 starting on March 26 at the Wankhede Stadium. There is no denying the fact that the IPL has become the money making machine for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after the Rs 93 lakh deficit it posted in mid-nineties. From a whopping Rs 8200 crore that SONY Pictures Network paid for the first 10 years from 2008 to 2017, Star India almost doubled it — Rs 16,347.50 crore — for TV (Star Sports) and digital (Hotstar)  platforms for five seasons (2018-22). The mastermind, the then Chairman and CEO  of Star India, Uday Shankar, averred that the price his company successfully bid was “not outrageous” and that the per match fee of Rs 54 crore was “not exorbitant” reasoning that after 10 years, the IPL had become a tried and tested and a premium product. SONY itself had put in a sum of Rs 11050 crore. Experts reckon that the IPL media rights (TV and Digital) for 2023-2027 will definitely touch Rs 35000 crore plus for five seasons and the e-auction could make the desperate, more desperate to own IPL, the most sought after hot property in the world of cricket. Five years ago there were 13 bidders, including five for digital.
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No President In TNCA After Rupa Gurunath, Like GCA Saw Business As Usual Post Amit Shah’s Exit?

Do you need a chairman for a company? You may not. But you need someone to chair shareholders’ meetings and to conduct the proceedings. Any board member may preside over and conduct such meetings. Nothing amiss about this. There are dime-a-dozen organisations where the top slot has remained unfilled for several reasons and, they are running quite well and this is not peculiar to any specific field. For instance, the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) is sans a president at this very moment. Since Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India, stepped down as its president in September 2019, the position at GCA has not been filled. As it is often said, life has simply moved on. And, the game of cricket has not stopped either! After all, cricket is bigger than individuals. There are no two views on that, however, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) affiliated to the Board of Control for Cricket in India is the parent body governing the game of Cricket in the State of Tamil Nadu. In December 2021 Rupa Gurunath, daughter of N Srinivasan of India Cements stepped down as president of TNCA after holding the reins for over two years.  The heavens did not fall on TNCA because it is without a president.  It’s business as usual. If GCA can run smoothly as before, why won’t the TNCA?
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Happy Days Are Here Again For IPL Fans As T20 Premier League Returns To India!

Come Saturday, the Tata IPL-15 will get off the ground at the Wankhede Stadium with a lung opener between four-time winner Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). CSK is owned by India Cements, led by the irrepressible Mahendra Singh Dhoni, aka Thala and, coached by the suave Kiwi Stephen Fleming. KKR is owned by Red Chillies Entertainment, Jay Mehta Group of course the Badshah of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan and actor Juhi Chawla. The two-time winner has a new captain in Shreyas Iyer whose was with Delhi Capitals in the last edition. KKR has the nonpareil record of winning 14 matches in a row in the league founded in 2008 and, whose Head Coach Brendon McCullum gave a roaring start to KKR’s campaign in the inaugural year with a breath-taking 158 against Royal Challengers, Bangalore. The stage is set for an electrifying start to the IPL 15 that returns to four Indian venues in Maharashtra. The government has allowed 25% attendance at each venue but, the BCCI is hopeful more paying spectators will be allowed as the league enters April and May, before the play-offs begin. So happy days are back again for the IPL fans because Season 14 in full and more than half of Season 13 were held in the United Arab Emirates.
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TNCA And Madras Race Club Face Off Over Free IPL Tickets Takes Legal Turn

Since the advent of IPL (Indian Premier League) many seasons ago, the game of cricket has undergone a major metamorphosis. Cricket watching, too, has seen a whole lot of transformation. The IPL has also managed to swing on board a hitherto uninterested segment of the audience into binge cricket watching. Today, cricket watching, be it in stadiums or on television, has turned into a sort of family entertainment.  Not surprisingly, everybody wants to have a share of cricket. The humungous audience interest has triggered a tiff between the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) and the Madras Race Club (MRC). Under the old arrangement between the two, MRC was given a sizable number of tickets from TNCA. This arrangement came into force during the tenure of late MA Chidambaram when he was the president of TNCA reportedly, as part of a property pact. Was this an indefinite arrangement? MRC thinks so, however, TNCA feels otherwise. Even as the two are engaged in a quarrel over the longevity and interpretation of the arrangement, the state cricket association has decided to put an end to the ticket-sharing practice. TNCA’s move indicates that there was nothing indefinite about the practice. Well, the tiff has now spilled over into the legal playing field!
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Lakshya Sen, Srihari Nataraj Are Pride Of PDCSE, Bengaluru Created By Vivek Kumar

Vivek Kumar, Founder & Director of the Padukone-Dravid Centre For Sports Excellence (PDCSE) near Bengaluru city is the go-to man for the Central, State governments and Corporates to create and finance sports infrastructure without much capital expenditure. Four years into existence, the institution for training elite sports persons and budding talent has already created a buzz around the development of Lakshya Sen at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, and Olympic swimmer Srihari Nataraj at its Olympic size pool, which operate within the facility named after two legends, Prakash Padukone and Rahul Dravid. Vivek Kumar, a former India junior badminton player, has invested around Rs 100 crore which includes 17-acre land. The PDCSE has facilities for athletics, badminton, swimming, 10 m shooting, football, squash, table tennis, volleyball, basketball and cricket. “The 10 m shooting range was created in the storage area for cricket. It cost about Rs15 lakh. Abhinav Bindra wanted a shooting range for the refugee shooters preparing for the Olympics. We spent more money to get the latest technology based swimming pool in order to reduce maintenance cost,” revealed Vivek, related to the Kirloskar family. Former India player, Vimal Kumar, who trained Sen to become a world-class player says: “Full credit to Vivek for creating the facility for India’s sports persons. The PDCSE is a boon for all sports.”
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Gundappa Viswanath All Set To Tell “Wrist Assured” Story

Gundappa Ranganath Viswanath, aka GRV, or affectionately Vishy, and if you want the celebrated catchline the ‘Little Master’ found time with a seasoned and studious cricket writer, R Kaushik, to tell his cricket story to his legion of followers who were attracted towards the great noble game only because of his and his brother-in-law Sunil Manohar Gavaskar’s classic stroke play from the 1970s onwards and well into the 1980s and also the subsequent generations. A genial to the core, Vishy became a darling of the purists and others alike after he cut to size Australia’s Graham McKenzie, Allan Connolly, Johnny Gleeson and Ashley Mallett while carving a breathtaking 137 in the second innings of his debut Test at the Green Park, Kanpur, in the winter of 1969. Introduced to Indian cricket’s highest level by Chairman of the selection committee Vijay Merchant and captain, Mansur Ali Khan ‘Tiger’ Pataudi, Vishy went on to charm the cricket world with strokes he executed with elan.  Almost four decades after he bid adieu to the game in 1983 — the year India won the World Cup — Vishy has decided to recall his cricket and life story with Kaushik, who has over 100 Tests under his belt and knowledge to get the best out of a great. The book, to be published by Rupa & Co. is titled: Wrist Assured.
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Photo : BCCI

Tragedy Time 'Rockstar' Performance By Ravindra Jadeja

Shane Warne’s ‘Rockstar’ cricketer Ravindra Jadeja has developed the good habit of playing the game with gusto with bat, ball, as fielder at point or even countryside positions in the field. It took a flaxen haired Australian superstar in Shane Warne to spot the terrific talent in the skinny lad from Jamnagar after observing his energy and enthusiasm while training at Jaipur. Jadeja justified the prediction of the Australian who excelled in the bossie (named after Bosanquet, the inventor of the back of the hand googly that turns from off to leg in leg spin action) variety and fooled many a batter in the World. After nearly 10 years of international cricket and across all three formats, Jadeja, after a long period of rehabilitation to recover from upper and lower limb injuries, made a match winning 175 not out and captured nine wickets against Sri Lanka in the Mohali Test that hastened to a finish inside stumps on the third day. Jadeja’s all-round display coincided with Warne’s premature death, but the Saurashtra cricketer will never ever forget the time he spent with Warne in the Jaipur dug out. And his unconquered 175 has made skipper Rohit Sharma to look at promoting him in the batting order.  “I am looking at ways to use him more in the batting role,” said Sharma after the Mohali Test.
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MCA Presidential Polls: Will It Be Dr Vijay Patil Vs CM Aide Milind Narvekar?

Of late, politicians have become proactive at the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), an institution known for producing World class cricketers and winning the prestigious Ranji Trophy. People who have been in the news this month, for either visiting the Wankhede Stadium in some connection or the other are: Aaditya Thackeray, a State Cabinet Minister and son of CM Uddhav Thackeray, CM’s Man Friday Milind Narvekar, who even tossed the coin at the interschool Harris Shield final, and State Congress Chief Nana Patole. Wonder what Sharad Pawar, the go-to-man for MCA matters for over two decades must be making of all the hubbub around it. MCA’s AGM is around, and elections are not far away and, its 330 plus voting members drawn from the maidan clubs, schools, colleges, corporate, State and Central government offices are already mulling over the people they should align with. No one knows which way the wind is blowing for the President’s position — Dr Vijay Patil or Narvekar. Elections are scheduled in October. Pawar who has done the most for MCA, especially on the infrastructure front for the game and other benefits for the members, may, even at the ripe age of 81, have a big say on the MCA election matter. Surely, BJP’s Ashish Shelar, a former MCA vice-president close to Home Minister Amit Shah must be giving him ball by ball commentary.
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Madras Race Club To Make Invitation Cup A Festival Of Revival For Racing In Its Diamond Jubilee Year

The Madras Race Club, oldest in the country, started in 1777 by the Brits has been a pulse pounding draw for the glitterati and moneyed of Chennai for years. Invitation Cup and Derby’s drew legendary thoroughbreds and even more iconic breeder owners from across the country, to mix and mingle, bet and brag over chilled beer and gimlets, events that bring in money on weekends for the race course. Late MAM Ramaswamy, that enfant terrible corporate King, breeder and racing aficionado ruled the roost and the racing scene as well. Then, one fine day, three decades ago, Kalaignar Karunanidhi halted horse racing in its tracks, citing a vague rationale. The Race club had to eschew its marquee event, like an emperor without clothes back then. MAM was a super legend, having won 9/Invitation cups. Race enthusiasts still talk about one exciting race when MAM‘s horse, Star Haven was pitted against actor Sanjay Khan’s Khartoum. Most unexpectedly, Khartoum won and the crowd roared its delight. MAM’s son MAMR Muthiah is now preparing for this weekend’s Invitation Cup, in which Forest Flame and Star is Born, Juliet and Own Opinion are being touted as probable winners. So what about the ban? The DMK has just lifted the ban. The public is mulling over this change without any rhyme or reasons provided.
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Fake Insta Post Warns Aussie Cricketer Ashton Agar’s Partner Against Pak Tour On Pain Of Death As Pak Rigs Up 4000 Strong Force

A fake Instagram post, its origins possibly in India, threatened Australian cricketer Ashton Agar with a message to his partner. It is believed the post was aimed at scaring the Australian cricket team that is touring Pakistan after 24 years and which is scheduled to hold its first practice session on Wednesday (March 2). The social media message was assessed as not credible. The post – “Your children will miss their Father if he comes to Pakistan. Our snipers will blow his head” — was clearly wrong as Agar and his partner have no children. Security agencies analysed it and assured the Aussies that there was nothing to fear. Having lost the New Zealand tourists on the day of their first scheduled international match last year, the Pakistan security establishment will put in place a 4,000 strong police cordon around the Aussies for the 3-Test, 3-ODIs and one T20I series. Pakistan-born Australian Test batsman Usman Khwaja brings a unique flavour to the tour as he visits his country of birth and where he has relatives. But the tour bio-bubble rules are so strict that he may not get to meet them. A successful tour for Australia, known to be very fussy about security in Asia, may generate hope in Pakistan that Team India also travel there soon.
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Photo : Twitter

Shreyas Iyer’s Distinct Play Cut Sri Lanka Down To Size, Even Without Virat, KL, Surya and Pant By His Side

Shreyas Iyer carved a niche for himself in the three match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka. Without his individual stroke making ability, India may not have found it easy against the Emerald nation that flew from Australia where it lost a series 1-4. Sri Lanka has been trying to rebuild its team after the retirement of its top guns Muthiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vasa, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara. So it was no surprise that it was beaten hollow in the Twenty20 internationals, with Shreyas knocking off 204 runs off 117 balls with unconquered scores of 57, 74 and 73 and scoring at 10.46 an over. An impressive batter raised in the tough environs of Mumbai’s highly competitive maidan cricket, Iyer has positioned himself for a middle order slot in the Indian team in all formats. Recently he made a Test century on debut against New Zealand at Kanpur and followed it up with a half century in the second innings. Injuries have kept him out of a few series, but he has been the bright spark whenever he has returned. Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav and Rishabh Pant were absent from the series against Sri Lanka and Iyer grabbed his chances with both hands and demanded a place in the playing XI in the future series.
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Vengsarkar At 125th Harris Shield Inauguration Asks MCA To Run Intercollegiate Cricket

Dilip ‘Colonel’ Vengsarkar has worn many hats in his distinguished career. He was raised in the maidans of Mumbai at Matunga Gymkhana, Shivaji Park, Azad, Cross, the Oval and many more, and he played for the interschool powerhouse King George, for RA Podar College and Bombay University before cutting his teeth in the domestic and international cricket and earning the sobriquet “Lord of the Lord’s” for scoring three Test centuries at the famous London venue.  He excelled as Chairman of the BCCI Selection Committee and as Head at the National Cricket Academy. He was also a vice-president of Mumbai Cricket Association for four terms. The Lodha Cricket Reforms has stalled a significant role for him at the MCA and the BCCI, but a person who has the eye to spot talent recently appealed to the MCA to run the city’s intercollegiate cricket. And according to Jagdish Achrekar, Treasurer, MCA’s Apex Council has acceded to Vengsarkar’s request. The former India captain’s plea to MCA came at the Nadeem Memon organised 125th anniversary inauguration of the MSSA Harris Shield at the Brabourne Stadium, Cricket Club of India. More than half a dozen former Test cricketers graced the occasion where the CCI President Premal Udani extended support to school sports and the Dubai-based Shyam Bhatia’s Cricket For Care Foundation presented kits to 40 needy schools. It was in this gathering that Vengsarkar highlighted the importance of intercollegiate and University cricket.
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Saha Cites Dravid And Ganguly, Does Not Name Media Intimidator

L’ affaire Wriddhiman has been rather unkind to the sports journalists’ fraternity in India, in particular with the former India stumper refusing to name the alleged sports journalist who sent him intimidating messages. Wriddhiman Saha, who has been brutally told the truth that he is on the way out of the India scheme of things because he is considered to be too old to be a No 2 man with the big gloves, has brought into the public domain the conversation India Head Coach Rahul Dravid had with him about the improbability of his future roles in India cap and red ball cricket during the recent tour of South Africa and a text from the BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, assuring to protect his place in the India team. But the Bengal-based stumper has still not revealed the name of the sports journalist who has behaved like a loon to say the least. No professional sports newsperson would resort to such unethical means to extract news from a sportsperson. Saha, a long time understudy to Mahendra Singh Dhoni has played 40 Tests that mirrors the permanency he enjoyed in the Test team, but of late the dashing Rishabh Pant has been anointed as the No 1 stumper across all formats and Kona Srikar Bharat, 28, being looked at as the immediate standby. But the big question now is, will Saha name the uncouth media person?
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Diana Edulji and Harmanpreet Kaur

If In The XI, Promote Harmanpreet To No 3 For Last Two Matches Against NZ: Diana Edulji

Attention is riveted these days on the Indian women team’s preparatory white-ball series against New Zealand (Silver Ferns) at Queenstown, before the ICC Women’s World Cup in March-April. Led by Harmanpreet Kaur, the famous Punjabi lass, India lost the one-off Twenty20. Thereafter, India led by Mithali Raj, posted good scores batting first in the 50 over ODIs, but it has not been able to defend it in two consecutive matches. In the second ODI, India made 270 and in the third, 279 and lost them by three wickets each. India had lost the first match by 65 runs. The team played the three ODIs without Smriti Mandhana. Apart from the dismal defeats, the poor form of Harmanpreet has hurt the team from racing to formidable match-winning totals. Known for her big hitting prowess, Harmanpreet has been out for cheap scores of 10, 10 and 13 in the three matches and former India captain and a former member of the Committee of Administrators that ran the BCCI for four years, Diana Edulji told this writer: “Now that India has lost the series, Harmanpreet should be promoted to No 3 (if in the playing XI). And some tough calls have to be taken if India has to make a serious bid for the World Cup. The players who are performing should be in the playing XI. Some players need to be pushed to perform.”
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Ajit Wadekar Should Be Visible At The Grand Stand Above The Wankhede Pavilion: Prof Shetty

The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), with a record 41 Ranji Trophy wins, is loath to give a fitting tribute to one of its most outstanding cricketers Ajit Wadekar and, It is puzzling. Belonging to the pantheon of Mumbai cricketers, Wadekar sported MCA’s lion crest from 1958-59 till the 1974-75 Ranji Trophy seasons, was part of the winning team 11 times, four times as captain and, led India to its maiden Test series win in the West Indies and England in 1971. Wadekar’s missing name is the notable one at MCA’s home ground on D Road in Churchgate. As one enters the Wankhede Stadium through the gates named after Polly Umrigar and Vinoo Mankad, cricket fans have the option to watch a match from the stands named after illustrious cricketers — Vijay Merchant, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sachin Tendulkar and a stand named after a former president Vithal Divecha. The home and visiting teams occupy the Vijay Manjrekar Dressing Rooms. A long time MCA and BCCI official Prof Ratnakar Shetty has suggested to an MCA official that the Grand Stand above the pavilion be named after Ajit Wadekar. “His name should be visible to the public,” Shetty tells this writer. An icon like Wadekar should be honoured, remembered properly adds Shetty, whose book My Years in BCCI: ON BOARD Test. Trial. Triumph. will be released soon.
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Photo : Twitter

Told To Make A Difference By Selectors, Rohit Sharma Plays With The Top Order!

Captain of the Indian men in blue (50 over cricket), Rohit Sharma has started with a bang winning the first two matches and the series against West Indies at the Narendra Modi Stadium at Motera, Ahmedabad. While his team won by six wickets and 44 runs, he had to deal with a tricky situation after the Covid-19 infection hit Shikhar Dhawan. Sharma and Dhawan are the second-highest run getting pair (4978 runs till the third ODI on Friday) for India after Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. The Delhi left-hander is close to 38 but Sharma believes Dhawan has a lot more steam left to carry on and deliver for India even in the 2023 World Cup to be hosted by India. Sharma revealed after the second match that he was asked (ostensibly by the national selection committee) to try out different things. As a result, mercurial batter Rishabh Pant was asked to open. In the first match another lefty, Ishan Kishan filled up the void caused by Dhawan’s absence. Pant was not allowed to throw his wrists at everything that the West Indies speedsters sent down but, it was a worthwhile experiment. Sharma is keen on a lefty partner right at the top of the order.
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Photo : BCCI

Rohit The Hitman Has A Winning Contract: Promises Different Strokes For Cricket Folk, With Eyes Only On The World Cup

Rohit Sharma delved deep into his own mind and said, “(I) don’t believe in a perfect game. You can’t be perfect,” after India won its 1,000th ODI. Then, he repeated his team’s winning streak in the 1001st ODI against the West Indies cricket team. With the ODI series won, Sharma’s debut as full time ODI captain now offers him more space to play a few variations. “I have been asked to do different things,” he said after his bowlers defended the under-par score of 237 runs in the second ODI. “We want(ed) to try a few things, with the long term in mind,” he added. All IPL heroes will get a chance now, as will battle-hardened veterans. The new Indian cricket mantra: Play with maturity, bat and bowl as the team need demands not, as you desire. India prepares for the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup it will host, come October 2023. Virat’s coming back to form is long pending. His ICC knockout scores: 1 (SF WC2019); 5 (Champions Trophy Final 2017); 1 and 3 (SF and QF WC2015); and 9 (SF WC2011) will surely buck up based on the law of averages. Team India requires the high-performance fix that defined the WC 2011 win, when its batting centurions played like gladiators digging deep into positions and, canny wicket takers complemented by scrappy all-rounders.
Jay_Shah_Brijesh_Patel

Jay Shah, Sourav Ganguly & Brijesh Patel

Lucknow And Ahmedabad Will Join The IPL-15 Party Though Uncertainty Dogs Venue Options

The next blockbuster that will dominate the Indian cricket scene is the mega players’ auction for the Indian Premier League, the undisputed World No 1 Twenty20 league. This year’s IPL is set to start March 27 with 10 teams in all; the two additions being Lucknow Supergiants, for which the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group (RPSG) will pay Rs 7090 crore for 10 years and, the Ahmedabad team for which Singapore-based private equity firm Irelia Company Capital Private Ltd (whose parent company is CVC Capital Partners) has committed Rs 5625 crore. While the BCCI will be richer by Rs 12,715 crore, it is yet to announce the venue where IPL15 will be held. IPL’s Governing Council Chairman, Brijesh Patel wants the tourney held again in the Gulf nations of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Muscat as these venues successfully managed IPL-13, second half of the IPL-14 and the ICC World Twenty20. BCCI Secretary Jay Shah has said he will try his utmost to bring the league back to India. Now, with Covid-19 numbers dropping by the day, Maharashtra is touted as the single State venue for all the league games. The players’ auction is scheduled at Bengaluru on Saturday and Sunday (February 12-13) and franchises will be told about the venue, hopefully well in time, so they can plan and form their team selection strategy.  
Chris silverwood_justin Langer

Player Power Lords Over World Cricket Coaches, Though Not In India Where BCCI Holds The Reins

The power of the player lords over cricket. It destroyed the coaching career of Justin Langer right after the team, under his charge, had won the T20 World Cup as well as the Ashes. Pat Cummins’ team won in double quick time and in the third Test, were only a wicket away from imposing another whitewash over England. Cricket Australia was bowing down to player power when it virtually forced Langer to resign. In England, Captain Joe Root kept his job despite the poor Test record but head coach Chris Silverwood, who held sway in all selection matters, got the sack. So too did the director of England men’s cricket, Ashley Giles. The opposite may hold true in Indian cricket when Virat Kohli was forced to throw in the captaincy but, then again, the force behind his ouster was former player Sourav Ganguly, now the influential head of the all too powerful BCCI administration. It may be recalled that Anil Kumble was sacked, on the wishes of the captain and players (just like Langer was), for being too intense with his coaching style. Player power is at an apogee in modern day cricket and signals the complete shift from the old days, when the administration could sack anyone at will. Whether that is good or bad, only time will tell.
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Turbanator Looks Back In Anger: BCCI’s Use & Throw Act Against 2011 World Cup Winners Still Hurts

Some fresh, fascinating insights into the mind and heart of BCCI’s Selection Think Tank have been laid bare by Harbhajan Singh, the legendary offspinner with 417 Test wickets – and a proud member of the World Cup winning Indian team. “If we were good enough to win the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011, why didn’t we play even a single match together after that? Was that team good enough just to win the World Cup and became kharaab after that?” he questioned in a YouTube show Backstage with Boria. “Were 31-year-old Harbhajan Singh, 30-year-old Yuvraj Singh, 32-year-old Virender Sehwag, 29-year-old Gautam Gambhir who played in 2011, not good enough to play in the World Cup team of 2015? Why were we removed from the team one by one? Why were we treated like a kind of Use and Throw?” There are no easy answers to the Turbanator’s probing questions. So staggering is India’s bench strength that it’s equally tough for the bowlers and batters to be counted in. Take the case of Karun Nair (KL Rahul’s teenage cricketing buddy), the only Indian with a triple ton other than Sehwag. Nair’s unbeaten 303 helped India score a record 759 against touring England in Chennai Test in 2016 and wrap up an innings win to take the series 4-0. He has turned 30 now, not recalled since 2017.
hardik pandya_BCCI

Photo : BCCI

Its A Case Of Once Bitten, Twice Shy For BCCI, Hardik Pandya Won’t Sport India Colours Anytime Soon

Hardik Pandya’s international career is at the crossroads. He has not turned out in a single match, in blue or whites, after the country’s dismal performance against Pakistan and New Zealand in the World Twenty20 in the UAE, after which India played against New Zealand and South Africa. Hardik is not in the ODI or Twenty20 team for the forthcoming series against the West Indies. The BCCI’s national selection committee has every reason to feel they were taken for a ride about his fitness for the World Twenty20. Chairman Chetan Sharma at a press conference had said that Hardik will bowl his quota of four overs in every Super 12 match in the UAE. Hardik did not send down a ball against Pakistan, Scotland and Namibia and bowled two overs each against New Zealand and Afghanistan, conceding 40 runs without a wicket. Recently he said he was “not supposed to bowl” when he bowled against New Zealand at the World Twenty20. Fast tracked into international cricket because of the hitting ability he demonstrated to the then India ‘A’ coach Rahul Dravid in Australia a few years ago, Hardik is unlikely to get the nod from the selectors at any time soon. He has shown the stomach for a fight in the past, but can his weak back mend itself fully? Hardik has to really bend his back to bowl at full tilt?

TRENDS & VIEWS

We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch www.shortpost.in on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.