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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.
Collage Maker-10-Feb-2023-02

BCCI

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.
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BCCI

The Ball That Settled The Series

Long after the final ball will be bowled in this series, the one delivery that sealed the Australians fate will be remembered for long. Two of Australia’s finest batsmen of today were together and making a match of it when Ravindra Jadeja, on a comeback trail, gave that delivery a little more air. On the cusp of a landmark, Marnus Labuschagne could not resist the temptation, overbalanced in failing to connect his intended drive to the ball that turned teasingly past the bat and the debutant keeper grabbed the chance to whip the bails off in a flash. Jadeja is no Bishen Bedi but he is a clever bowler who knows that he is not a big spinner of the ball to bowl too much beyond the wicket to wicket line. He keeps it on the spot at a brisk pace and with variations like the straight ball and the arm ball together present quite a challenge for visiting batsmen in Indian conditions. He may have won the series for India already with that ball beating Labuschagne and then sealing it with the splendidly directed arm ball that went through Steve Smith’s gate. He dismantled the Aussie challenge in those two deliveries, but it was the first one that broke the camel’s back. If this series looks over already, it is all down to Jadeja’s cleverness. Give him credit for it.
LeBron breaks NBA all time record

LeBron James Breaks World Record, Climbs Mt Everest Of Basketball

In climbing the Mount Everest of professional basketball, LeBron James of the LA Lakers has recorded one of sport’s greatest achievements. Having overtaken Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s 38,387 points, the 38-year-old is now the pro sport’s highest ever scorer. While Jabbar had taken 1,560 games to build his career tally, LeBron made it in just over 1,400 appearances. Jabbar was on hand to celebrate the moment when the game between the LA Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder was stopped the moment the record was broken. “Breaking records is a benchmark of human progress”, Jabbar said graciously. Michael Jordan (32,292) holds the record for the most points (30.1) per game, LeBron is fifth on that all-time list. Marked for greatness early in his life, LeBron’s 38,390 could well go over 40,000 points before he calls it a day. He intends playing at least one game with his elder son Bronny before he hangs up his boots. LeBron has considerable achievements to his name in the books. He has won at least one NBA title for each of his three teams and been the NBA’s MVP four times. LeBron has received many accolades for his game skills and his leadership qualities. One of his teammates in Cavaliers captured it best when he said – “It’s not just his body. It’s not just his process. It’s not just his intention. It’s his brain.”
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If It's Australia, It's About Baggy Green, Mental Disintegration And Final Frontier!

The team that has immortalised the Baggy Green cap is in India, and no wonder there is so much buzz around it because of the quality of the pitches (speculated though) that will be rolled out for the four Tests at Nagpur, New Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Australia needs to win one Test and India much more to proceed to the final of the ICC World Test Championship in London. Pitches in India in the past have been notoriously described as dubious, snake pits and what not. A few decades ago, Steve Waugh chose the mental disintegration strategy and labelled a Test series in India as the final frontier. He succeeded against most countries, but not in India. He lost 1-2 the famous series of 2001 when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman turned the Kolkata Test around on its head with a 376 run stand. India went on to win the Chepauk Test too. The present captain, Pat Cummins, who won the home Ashes series against England 4-0 and beat Pakistan in its backyard 1-0, is hoping to outwit India in India for the first time in nearly 19 years. Cummins has not lost a Test series, but he and Australia know that India will be a tough nut to crack at home. In the last four home Test series against Australia, India won 10 Tests as against Australia’s one win.
Shubhman Gill

@ShubmanGill

Litmus Test Awaits In-Form Shubman Gill Against Australia

Shubman Gill has been in good nick this season; he has collected plenty of runs, boosted by a maiden Test century in Bangladesh. He sustained his form in the home white ball series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand piling up 567 runs in six innings with big scores of 116 against Sri Lanka and 208 and 112 against New Zealand. The lean right-handed opener also showed his class with a lovely knock of 126 not out in the last Twenty20 match against New Zealand at Ahmedabad. In such great touch with the willow, executing splendid ground and aerial shots, Gill is virtually coercing the team management to pick him for the four Test series against Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India has to be on the positive side of the results in order to travel to the UK for the ICC World Test Championship title match in June. Gill is likely to be a walk into the XI because Shreyas Iyer needs time to mend his back ailment, but he will find the Australian bowling combination tough to deal with. He looked the part making 259 runs in three Tests of the 2020-21 series in Australia, but thereafter he did not set the home series against England on fire in early 2021. But with another one year of international cricket under his belt, he must be feeling a bit better before the litmus Test against Pat Cummins and company.
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Under-19 Team’s World Cup Triumph Gives A Big Boost For BCCI's Women's Premier League

Women’s cricket in India got a shot in the arm when its Under-19 team led by Shafali Verma beat its counterpart from England with clinical efficiency in the final to win the inaugural ICC Women’s Under-19 Twenty20 in South Africa. For long India’s senior women’s teams showed a lot of promise, but flopped in the ICC events. Now the pressure is on the team led by Harmanpreet Kaur to win the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in South Africa. The BCCI Secretary Jay Shah has announced a cash award of Rs 5 crore to the under-19 team. But there could be bigger rewards for the under-19 players when the auction is held for the inaugural Women’s Premier League that has a media rights worth Rs 951 crore and the five team owners have agreed to shell out Rs 4669.99 crore for the first 10 seasons. So the win by Shafali’s team could not have come at a better time than this. Not long ago there were doubts about the WPL getting quality Indian players, but it appears now that there will be decent numbers in the basket for the five franchise owners to pick from. The likes of opening batter Shweta Sehrawat, fast bowler Titas Sadhu, leg-spinner Parshavi Chopra, all-rounder Trisha Gongadi and left -arm spinner Mannat Kashyap, are likely to be in demand at the WPL auction.
WhatsApp Image 2023-01-28 at 15.33

Mumbai Falls By The Wayside Again In The Prestigious Ranji Trophy

Mumbai’s cricketing fortunes in recent times has been like a curate’s egg; while on the one hand the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has contributed to the national team, going back to from the heady days of Sunil Gavaskar’s achievements, on the other hand the cricketers representing the famous Lion Crest has not been able to maintain consistency in winning the Ranji Trophy, the symbol of supremacy in the broader context of India’s cricketing canvas. Last year it was outwitted by Madhya Pradesh in the final in Bengaluru, and on Friday (Jan 27), the MCA team marshalled by Ajinkya Rahane could not outsmart Maharashtra in the last group match, and as a consequence has been left by the wayside. Mumbai has won the Ranji Trophy 41 times, and those who have played a part in it have left a legacy to follow. The past teams played for pride. This season Mumbai did not have the class of 2009-10 and 2012-2013  when led by Ajit Agarkar and 2015-2016 when the team had champions and budding talents in Dhawal Kulkarni, Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Iyer, Siddhesh Lad and Suryakumar Yadav. Mumbai has the exalted reputation as a champion side; and so, going seven years on the trot without the title will hurt the true blue Mumbai cricketer. From 2002-03 to 2015-16, Mumbai won the title seven times, it’s been barren thereafter!
HOCKEY

India’s World Cup Woes In Hockey Continues!

Hope and ambition has turned into despair and anguish for the Indian men’s hockey team that was predicted to work wonders at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela. Former stalwarts had gone to the extent of saying that the team will finish among the top three. But as it transpired India did not show the gumption to defend a 3-1 score, allowed New Zealand to restore parity and eventually lost in a shoot-out finish. The team that won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year had looked a world class side, but it could not brush aside the challenge posed by the Kiwis which was beaten 0-4 by Germany and 2-3 by Malaysia in the Group matches. The team came short on penalty corner conversions, but the experts are probably right in saying that India ought not to have frittered away the 3-1 advantage. It was a shock defeat because no Indian side had lost to New Zealand in the previous six clashes starting from July 2018. Odisha which has spent over Rs 1,000 crore to host the World Cup, and the State’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik must be a touch disappointed with India’s defeat in the PQF. Many  believed that India would actually win the World Cup after 48 years. But it’s once again a sob story.
sarfaraz khan

@sarfarazkhan977

In The Queue Sarfaraz Khan Can Only Amass Runs, Not Take A Jibe At The Selectors!

Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath once called the national selectors a bunch of jokers. A 1983 World Cup hero, Amarnath made the acerbic jibe at the selectors after not being picked in the Indian team in 1989: by that time he had played 69 Tests, scored 4378 runs with 11 x 100s, and played 89 ODIs and scored 1924 runs. Some three decades later, young and built in ample measure, Sarfaraz Khan is not in a position to take pot shots at the selectors that Amarnath did. The Mumbai right hander has been prolific in the last three Ranji Trophy seasons. In all he has amassed 3380 runs in 36 first class matches before the ongoing Ranji match against Delhi. There has been a hue and cry over his non-inclusion in the Test team for the series against Australia, the outcome of which would be  so crucial for India’s qualification for the ICC World Test Championship final. Skipper Rohit Sharma would like us all to believe that experience is the best option with himself, K L Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Shreyas  Iyer in the established batting line up and the selection committee  may believe that Ishan Kishan, KS Bharat, Suryakumar Yadav, Abhimanyu Easwaran (10000 plus runs across formats) and Rajat Patidar are already in the big picture along with Sarfaraz who will have to wait for the lucky day.
Collage Maker-17-Jan-2023-12

Smriti And Harman's Brand Gets A Rs 951 Crore Start For Women’s IPL

Women’s cricket in India is going places. Not long ago an IPLTwenty20 tournament to shore up India’s distaff cricketers was not on the anvil.  But the likes of Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jemima Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Richa Ghosh, Deepti Sharma, Harleen Deol and many more — who were relentless in their pursuit creating an attractive brand for the Twenty20 format – have successfully pressed for a glamourous event that has the possibility of becoming a roaring success. Very recently Jhulan Goswami — while responding to a specific question at the Dileep Sardesai Memorial — reiterated a view held by women cricketers that an IPL for them would be a game changer.  Jhulan touched upon the point of the women cricketers benefitting from more money. It has taken time, but the BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, has worked overtime to make his pet project a reality. After women’s cricket came under the BCCI administration some 17 years ago, the BCCI extended the monthly gratis to them, introduced the annual contract, lifetime achievement award, equal fee for Test, ODI and Twenty20 matches, allowances and more. As a first step towards making the WIPL a commercial viability the BCCI has sold the media rights for a cumulative sum of Rs 951 crore to Viacom18 for the first five years (2023-2027). So hopefully no more exhibition matches from this summer; but all intense, competitive and deadly!
Collage Maker-11-Jan-2023-11

Flashback: The 188-Run Knock That Saw Sunil Gavaskar Lording It Over Lords

Indian Legend Sunil Gavaskar’s column in Mid-Day on Fitness and passing Yo-Yo & Dexa tests being paramount for being selected for India reminds me of a story recounted by him when he played for Rest Of World vs MCC at Lord’s in 1987, the match which had 22 of the world’s finest, locking horns to mark MCC Bicentenary. The maestro had arrived in advance and had reported for practice at the hallowed ground with a few teammates. The manager of ROW Clive Lloyd saw his compatriot (from ROW vs Australia, 1972) sitting comfortably behind the nets while the other players were doing laps of the ground. Walking up to Gavaskar, who was peacefully reading a book, Lloyd asked him if he had done his ‘laps’ and if he’d like to join his mates for a few more. “I’m with them….mentally,” replied the little master with a smile. Two days later, after fielding for 133.1 overs, Gavaskar notched up 188 runs against an attack comprising Malcolm Marshall, Richard Hadlee, Clive Rice, John Emburey & Ravi Shastri. The monumental hundred, in his last first-class match, had his name inscribed on the Lord’s honours board – the only achievement that was missing in his illustrious career!
Collage Maker-10-Jan-2023-12

Facebook : Shantanu Sugwekar with his daughter

MCA Election: Shantanu Sugwekar Gets Just 2 Votes Despite 74 First Class Matches, 5906 Runs

Remember Shantanu Sugwekar, the most talented batsman from Maharashtra in the 1980s and 1990s? Known for solidity and style, Sugwekar was one of those unlucky from Maharashtra who could not convince the national selectors that they were good enough to play Test match cricket for India. Milind Gunjal, Surendhra Bhave and a handful more like Shrikant Kalyani, Shrikant Jadhav and Santosh Jedhe gave their heart and soul for Maharashtra but none of them could tick the box that would have enabled them to play for India. They were fine individuals too, but somehow the voters of the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) do not seem to appreciate their contribution to the State’s cricket. At the MCA election, Sugwekar who has played 74 Ranji Trophy for Maharashtra, 10 Duleep Trophy matches and one Irani Cup match for Rest of India and scored in all 6563 runs with 19 centuries and 26 half centuries and played 46 limited over matches and for India under-19 — received just two votes; his own and from another. The 56-year-old was a candidate for the post of a councilor; he did not fit into the internecine politics played by the MCA members. One can only pity, the likes of Sugwekar who are keen to get into administration but end up as also-rans. We care a fig for what you have done, is the message voters seem to be telling him.
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@surya_14kumar

Suryakumar 'SKY' Yadav Is The New Darling Of The Crowd

The Indian cricket fan is so unique to the world of cricket; in the sense that he/she buys a ticket only with a fond hope of seeing the national team win even if the chips are down. About 25000 turned up at the Wankhede Stadium on January 3 and a narrow home team win — by 2 runs — resulted in a bigger turn out for the second match at the MCA International Stadium, near Pune. Hardly anyone among the 30,000 plus was ready to leave after Sri Lanka had dismissed the top 5 Indian batters for a frugal collection of 57 runs. The reason for not giving up hope; Suryakumar Yadav (SKY) was still in the middle. Such has been the kind of impact SKY has made on the Indian fan in a very short span of time, thanks to the slam bang variety of the sport. And SKY has his own inimitable style to executive strokes that can be found in coaching manuals and also find ways using his hands and wrists to send the ball racing to the fence and also soaring over the line. Though left hander Axar Patel swung that bat for optimum results to make the Sri Lankans anxious, Yadav roared into action to bring India close to the target. The Indian cricket fan was thrilled by the Yadav- Patel onslaught, but a tad disappointed by the 16-run defeat.
jasprit bumrah

@Jaspritbumrah93

Jasprit Bumrah To Be In The Thick Of Action, Very Soon!

The return of Jasprit Bumrah for the three-match one-day series against Sri Lanka was the biggest news on Tuesday (Dec 3). Bumrah has been India’s linchpin for almost seven years, but he missed the Asia Cup Twenty20 in September before making a brief appearance against Australia at Nagpur. He was ruled out of the ICC World Twenty20 in Australia. According to the BCCI the fast bowler who has taken 319 international wickets for India in 1893 overs has been declared fit by the Bengaluru-based National Cricket Academy. Bumrah was laid low by a serious back ailment. He was kept in cotton wool in order to give him a chance to fully rehabilitate himself for the four Test series against Australia set to start in Nagpur on February 9. India beat Bangladesh in the Two-Test series recently and is placed No 2 in the ICC World Test Championship cycle. A fit as a fiddle Bumrah will strengthen India’s attack, although he has taken only 14 of his 128 Test wickets at home. Clearly the spin friendly tracks will bring the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel into the picture against Australia, but Bumrah’s value as a speedster just cannot be discounted.  In the last Test match he played against Sri Lanka in India 10 months ago, he took 5 and 3 wickets.
Hardik-Pandya

@hardikpandya7

Hardik Pandya Gets The Big Lift For White Ball Captaincy

It can be surmised that the non-selection of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, K L Rahul and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the three-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka has to be seen as an upshot of India’s dismal showing in the Asia Cup in the UAE and in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Australia. India did not qualify for the semi-finals in the Continental tournament and was beaten hollow by England in the semi-finals of the World Twenty20. India was very lucky to get past Pakistan in the first match at Melbourne and rain-interruption paved the way for its win against Bangladesh and advance to the knock out. Overall, India, as a team, was far from convincing in the entire tournament in Australia. Kohli, though did show some pluck in Dubai and Australia. All are into their 30s and hence definite non-starters for the 2024 Twenty20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA. Failing to show the way for the team, and errors in team selection, has perhaps hastened Sharma’s exit from the Twenty20 scheme of things. That Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav have been named the captain and vice captain for the series against Sri Lanka is a clear hint that the BCCI wants a change and build a team for the future. A lot can change in the next 22 months, but one thing is certain and that’s the Twenty20 careers of Sharma and his ilk has seen the last days.
Sir-Don-Bradman

Cancel Culture Catches Up With Sir Donald Bradman

In this ‘woke’ age, not even the most iconic of men are above being taken apart. Cancel culture, quite the phenomenon of the year, caught up with Sir Donald Bradman too with social media pundits denouncing him as a RWNJ (Right Wing Nut Job) after a letter he had written to Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser in 1975 emerged and was dissected by new age warriors.  The cricketer whose deeds at the batting crease helped pull Australia through the Great Depression, has plenty of defenders in leading public figures too as opposed to those wishing to take down his reputation. The backlash, during which he was also described as a “bigoted right-wing politician”, was condemned as “disgraceful” even as fears were expressed that Twitterati iconoclasts might start demanding that Bradman’s statues, of which there are many in Australia, be taken down. The public are being reminded now of how Bradman, as chief administrator of Australian cricket after retirement, changed his stand after hearing out protesters and then opposed cricket ties going on as normal against the Apartheid-era South African teams. Bradman may have been right wing and had players who didn’t see eye to eye with him in his own team like Bill O’Reilly and Jack Fingleton, but overall he was a batsman par excellence and an icon too far to be cancelled now
IPL Auction

Tata-IPL-16 Auction: A Far Cry From A Mickey Mouse Event!

After all, the TATA IPL player auction at Kochi turned out to be a far cry from a Mickey Mouse event! The so-called mini auction — the franchises had retained the core players — had all the ingredients to make the bidding of a few celebrity players electrifying. From the time Harry Brook — five innings, 56 runs, average 11.20 at the recent ICC World Twenty20 in Australia — was bought by Kavya Maran’s Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 13.25 crore, it was more or less a given that the real world cup winners in Jos Buttler’s England team would win a lottery. The Sunrisers were led by Brook’s numbers against Pakistan in Twenty20 and in the recent Test series in Pakistan (6 innings, 468 runs, 3 x 100s) and went after him. Then Sam Curran’s happy red-carpet home coming to Punjab Kings cost Ness Wadia Rs 18.50 crore. Chennai Super Kings in search of an all-rounder, motivator and leader got Ben Stokes for Rs 16.25 crore. The Ambanis armed Mumbai Indians with Australian Cameroon Green paying Rs 17.50 crore. The England players were bought for Rs 56.4 crore, a big chunk of Rs 167 crore spent. England’s World Twenty20 win in Australia, after thrashing India in the semi-finals, has indeed tickled the fancy of the franchises upon the Currans, Stokes and Brooks. And Joe Root for Rs 1 crore!
Mbappe baby doll (1)

Argentina Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez Triggers Football War

They say he is a character. Would that mean anything he does is to be seen as a joke and the villain forgiven? Emiliano Marinez, the Argentine goalkeeper who saved a penalty and distracted another French shot taker into kicking it wide, is busy stirring up things back home after the World Cup win. He has incensed France by mocking Kylian Mbappe repeatedly. He asked for a minute’s silence in honour of Mbappe in the dressing room soon after Argentina won the cup – “A minute’s silence for Kylian Mbappe, who is dead” he said. Worse, he took a doll with a photograph of the French striker stuck on its face. At one point, he was filmed rubbing the doll on his genitalia as Argentina players took their open top bus ride in Buenos Aires. He had made the same gesture when he rubbed the golden Glove trophy after the final and seems to have gotten away with it. There hasn’t been a pip out of FIFA on this flagrant obscene act that was carried live to a couple of billion people. Incidentally, he is mocking a player who scored a hat-trick in the final and slotted the first goal in the penalty shootout. His tactics as goalkeeper in the shootout should also be analysed but FIFA, drunk with the success of the World Cup, is keeping mum.
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@imkuldeep18

Kuldeep Yadav's Exclusion From Second Test Despite His Rich Haul Surprises Everybody

There is so much hue and cry around Kuldeep Yadav, all emanating from Bangladesh. Recalled for a multi-day Test match after a gap of 21 months — for the first Test at Chattogram — he took eight wickets, scored 40 runs, was declared the man of the match and then what happens! Dropped for the second Test at Dhaka because of the appearance of a green-top surface. Instead of Yadav, skipper K L Rahul goes for left arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat who had played his previous Test in the winter of 2010!  The tour selection committee’s choice of the seamer over the spinner has warranted a thumbs down reaction from former India captain and media personality Sunil Gavaskar. Obviously Yadav must have been hurt when he was informed about the captain’s decision. Not long ago, Kuldeep was one half of the callow, “Kul-Cha” spin-pair; the second half being Yuzvendra Chahal. These two wrist spinners of the unorthodox variety had replaced the then successful finger spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin- Ravindra Jadeja duo. Following their inability to get wickets against Pakistan in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, both were given the short shrift.  Yadav and Chahal held their own — though Chahal never played for India in whites. Soon Yadav fell by the wayside and after a long time staged a successful comeback before the colour of the surface brought the axe down on him!
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@KMbappe and @ErlingHaaland

The Debate Starts, Kylian Mbappe Or Erling Haaland

The Qatar22 FIFA World Cup began with Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Lionel Messi creating all the noise because each one of them was chasing a dream of laying their hands on the silverware, but by the semi-finals the noise became shriller and around the two icons, Messi and Kylian Mbappe. Now that Messi has crowned himself with glory, the football world is trying to trigger a debate on the individual brilliance of Mbappe and another young kid on the block, 22-year old Norwegian Erling Haaland whose country was absent at Qatar. The Leeds born Haaland is a No 9 centre forward and plays for Manchester City for which he has played 13 matches and scored 18 goals in the EPL. He has played 23 matches for Norway and scored 21 goals. Mbappe has already earned the sobriquet “Bomber in the Box” and his hattrick in the final at Doha against Argentina has vaulted him to the super star category. Both are sprinters and they stun their opponents with explosive runs and reactions, a terrific virtue that is going to be copied by the present generation. Mbappe has already won the World Cup (in Russia 2018) and the silver and Golden Boot at Qatar, whereas Haaland will most probably make his World Cup debut in 2026 when 48 teams qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
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@KMbappe & Twitter

Clash Of Titans: Messi And Mbappe In The Race For The World Cup And The Golden Boot

Everything has fallen in place for the grand final of the Qatar22 FIFA World Cup on Sunday (Dec 18). The showpiece event that will bring the curtain down to one of the most unique World Cups is already billed as the clash of the Titans – between a legend in Lionel Messi and superstar Kylian Mbappe, a legend in the making. These two are the only premium class stalwarts who will be seen in action that will deliver the Champion side — Argentina or France. Both the teams lost a match each to Arabic speaking sides — Saudi Arabia and Tunisia in the group stage. But now the time is upon Argentina to win the World Cup for Messi, while Mbappe who has already won it in Russia’18, is anxious to win back to back for himself and for France. The crowd that will be close to 90000 at the Lusail Iconic Stadium — much of it wearing the blue vertical triband top — will root for Argentina. On another aspect, Mbappe and Messi have scored five goals each and so there is another race in the final for the Golden Boot that’s awarded to the highest goal scorer in the tournament. But Argentina’s Julian Alvarez and France’s Olivier Giroud with four goals each could come into the reckoning after the final. The number of assists and less time on the pitch will determine the winner.
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BCCI

India Must Win Against Bangladesh To Be In Race For ICC Test Championship Final

There is so much at stake in the two-Test series against Bangladesh that starts at Chattogram on December 14. India is placed fourth in the ICC Test Championship race for the 2021-23 cycle; it should be recalled that India lost to New Zealand in the final of the inaugural Test championship at Southampton last year. India, to be led by K L Rahul — in the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma — cannot afford to lose to Bangladesh.  Only wins against Bangladesh will keep India in the fray; Australia is topping the leader board and it needs small points to assure itself of a place in the final. In fact, only positive results against Bangladesh will keep the home series against Australia in February-March alive. India is scheduled to play four Tests against Australia. Apart from Australia, the others in the running for the title match are South Africa and Sri Lanka which are placed second and third on the points table. Pakistan has virtually seen its hopes vanish following the Test series loss to England, which again is not really in the running. India’s problem is that it doesn’t have Sharma, fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammad Shami. It’s going to be a tough for the stand-in skipper Rahul who said: “We know where we stand and what we need to do to qualify for the final.’’
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Home Stretch Drama For Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Modric

The Qatar22 FIFA World Cup has whittled down to 8 teams from a high number of 32. A great chance for each one of the qualifiers of the quarter-finalists to give their best shot. As the former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh said once; teams have to make their own luck. Brazil, the five time winner has been having the bragging rights as the king of the sport, but it faces the banana slip situation against the former Yugoslavia country — Croatia — in one of the quarter-finals clashes today, and Argentina faces the stoical Netherlands in another quarter-final brush. The Lionel Messi bandwagon was full throated at the popular hangout at downtown Doha on Thursday night (Dec 8) — Souq Wakif and Msheireb — and so were the Moroccan supporters dancing to the Arabic beat. The outcome of the last 8 will decide whether the champions of the last decade and more — Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Luka Modric — will go home or extend their stay here. The drama will continue on December 10 with the England Manager Gareth Southgate making moves to show the way for skipper Harry Kane to stop France’s Kylian Mbappe and eventually do a Bobby Moore (captain of England’s World Cup winning team in 1966) and Portugal’s new kid on the block Ramos taking the start and the centre stage against the Atlas Lions, Morocco.
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Brazil Find Their Samba Rhythm Again!

The Brazilians are back and how! They may have dropped a game in the preliminaries to Cameroon after rostering out all the stars in their lineup. With Neymar back in the knockouts after an ankle injury, the football World Cup favourites were back to top form in their 4-1 annihilation of South Korea. The result was only expected but the Brazilian performance went beyond the score line. Selecao were not only scoring goals but enjoying their football, which should make them the most dangerous opponents from the quarter-final onwards. Their dance routine after scoring each of their four goals in a choreographed style was quite the talking point. While some critics panned it, others saw the delight the Brazilians are taking in doing what they do best – play football, score goals. Analysts of their form and performance are giving the Brazilians a real chance at winning the World Cup after 20 years. Playmaker Neymar’s return makes them more formidable. Beyond that, the talent of the strikers who are dancing the samba is striking. Richarlison scored a memorable goal, bouncing the ball three times off his head while keeping possession. And when he let the ball fall to the ground, he passed to a colleague only to get a return pass nearer goal when he sent the ball sliding in.
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FIFA Rankings Gets The Thumbs Up!

Rankings in the FIFA men’s is an indicator of the consistent performance of the teams in international tournaments over a period of time, and the outcome of the group stage matches and six pre-quarter finals confirms the standings of the top notch teams. Brazil, Argentina, France, England, Netherlands and Croatia feature in the top 12 rankings and they have taken their place in the quarter finals at Doha. Portugal takes on Switzerland and Spain will compete against the North African country Morocco in the last two rounds of 16 matches on Tuesday, matches that will bring a near perfect finish before the last eight ! Only Belgium, the No 2 ranked nation and a football powerhouse, Germany, Ranked No 11, do not figure in the race for the title. FIFA could not have been more happier than being in the present position with the popular teams from South America, Brazil and Argentina advancing to sustain the interest and also the European teams like England and France showing their mettle to drive the Qatar22 FIFA World Cup. The entry of Spain and Portugal to the last eight will give a thumbs up to the FIFA Rankings. Not just the teams, the champion performers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Harry Kane have played their part to keep their country’s flag  flying and so also, FIFA’s.
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BCCI President Roger Binny On A Sticky Wicket!

Roger Binny is on a sticky wicket. A genuine all-rounder who manipulated the red cherry in an expert way, bagged plenty of wickets and played his part in India’s 1983 Prudential World Cup win, has been issued a Conflict of Interest (COI) notice by the BCCI’s Ethics Officer, Vineet Saran. Binny, 67, was elected unopposed as the president of the BCCI in October. He succeeded former India captain Sourav Ganguly. He has been asked to reply to the COI related notice before December 20. The apparent reason for the COI charge is that his daughter-in- law Mayanti Langer has a contract with Star Sports, the COI rule which is part of Justice Lodha’s Reforms in Cricket report, is seen now as a nuisance by the administrators and people in general are appalled that a non-controversial person like Binny has to face the charge at the instance of vested interests. A former senior functionary of the BCCI, Prof. Ratnakar Shetty says: “The COI rules need to be reviewed in the interest of BCCI.’’ He believes many cricketers are deprived the opportunity to be part of the cricket administration at the State and National level. Recently the BCCI got relief for a number of issues related to the governance aspect from the Supreme Court. The time has arrived for the COI rule to be reviewed and the Apex Court appointed Amicus to step in.
Pant with Sanju Samson

Is This The End Of Rishabh Pant As White Ball Striker?

The rebuilding of Team India after the crash in the T20 World Cup has not gone smoothly enough. All the faults of a bowling attack without sting and batsmen not getting out of the starting gates smartly enough in the first powerplay were also seen on the tour of New Zealand. The greatest disappointment, however, lay in Rishabh Pant still being unable to crack the white ball code. He may have all the striking talent in the world as seen in many of his Test innings. But his tendency to overhit the white ball brings about his downfall too often as he often skies the ball into the deep. Team India has lost a lot of time in trying to get its stars to find their top form as we saw in the case of Virat Kohli and as we will see in the case of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. But what happens to the team as selectors celebrate backing the stars is becoming clear enough. Indian cricket would be better off If only the selectors can see the damage to team performances as individuals try to justify their places. As Sanju Samson sat on the bench, the failure of selection policies was all too clear. Building a new team seems the best option now.
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So Far So Good By FIFA And Qatar!

Once the Qatar22 FIFA World Cup got rolling on November 20 with the match between Qatar and Ecuador, millions of fans have been engrossed in watching all the action with great relish. There would be disappointment among the locals because Qatar — which got an entry into the draw 32 because it had won the rights to be the host country — has been knocked out even before playing the last group match against the Netherlands. But the fans are having their fill of joy seeing the stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi scoring goals in their last World Cup. There have been quite a few thrillers like the match between Cameroon and Serbia, and Ghana and South Korea displaying the African brand of football. The FIFA and Qatar which has delivered an outstanding World Cup so far needs to be contended; there have been minor irritants, but these can happen in a tournament as humongous as the quadrennial event itself. The tournament will soon enter the Group of 16 from whereon elimination of teams will begin. But the happy news for the fans is Brazil, France and Portugal with six points have entered the Round 2 where the matches will turn into a real skirmish.  Argentina’s fate will be known on Wednesday — it plays Poland — and England known on Tuesday night after its match against Wales.
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Giant Cut Outs Of Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar Spring Up All Over Football Crazy Kerala

There is no end to the football frenzy in Kerala. Huge cut-outs of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar have sprung up at street corners across Kerala. What takes the cake this World Cup are the cut-outs in the middle of paddy fields much to the consternation of municipal corporations. It is estimated that Keralites spent over Rs 4 crore on cut-outs in the Malabar region alone during the 2018 World Cup. This year the figures are expected to double. And if this is not enough the frenzy has moved on to another level. Around 17 football fans pooled their resources to pick up an old house for Rs 23 lakh at Mundakkamugal, near Kochi to watch the World Cup matches with friends. The house has been converted into a viewing gallery with the walls adorning flags of the 32 teams participating in the Doha World Cup and also portraits of Messi and Neymar. No match is enjoyable without loud cheering, fun and friendly banter, says P H Harris, one of the house owners. Following up on their elders, school kids from Perambra in Calicut and Shoranur in Palghat petitioned their Principals to wrap classes early so as to enable them to watch their favourite matches. At Doha Keralites make up the fan clubs of England, France, Brazil and Argentina. In fact, Keralites have their own football league in Doha, with teams named after each district of Kerala.
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Brazil, A Class Apart, Rocks The Lusail With 88103 Spectators

Brazil, popularly known as Selecao, proved it is a class apart! For decades the many stalwarts of the South American country – a five-time World Cup Trophy winner (the Jules Rimet Trophy/ FIFA World Cup) — have proved to be the prime crowd pullers of the game and on Thursday (Nov 24) put out a number that validated its undisputed claim. The stunning Lusail Stadium awash with Brazil’s yellow top was packed with 88103 spectators, which was a few thousands shy of the 92000 plus spectators who filled the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the India versus Pakistan match of the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup on October 23. While the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador was seen by 67372 spectators here at Doha that can take pride in having created a fantastic Metro Network to make the transportation of the public easy and comfortable, Thursday was always marked as the `D’ Day for the 22nd edition of the competition here. Lionel Messi’s Argentina had already triggered interest with a spectator count of 88102 in the match it lost to Saudi Arabia at the Lusail, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal attracted a crowd of 42662 in its first appearance with a 3-2 triumph against Ghana in the third match on Thursday, Neymar’s Brazil team with a 2-0 win against Serbia made it a perfect day for its fans and for the FIFA too!
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Volunteers at the main Press Centre Information Desk

Volunteers Give Impetus To Qatar22 FIFA World Cup

Nothing spectacular may have happened in two days — match wise — of the Qatar22 FIFA World Cup at Doha.  One of the smallest countries in the world area wise — the Persian Gulf country ranked as the 164th tiny-dot nation in the globe, higher than Jamaica, Gambia and Lebanon, and below Falkland Islands, Vanuatu, Montenegro and Bahamas — is hosting the greatest sporting event, having won the bid long long ago. Qatar and FIFA’s masterstroke was that it rostered the 29-day event in November and December when the weather bureaus would report cooler climes and not in keeping with the trend of scheduling the event between May and July.  So far four matches have been played and all have reported excellent numbers with the opening match between Qatar and the fourth qualifier from South America, Ecuador reporting a 60000 plus turnout at the Bedouin-tent shaped Al Bayt Stadium. As the FIFA president Gianni Infantino articulated, attention has riveted on the beautiful game’s spectators who have saved hard-earned money for years to be part of the celebration of football in the Arab World. Qatar has been held in awe and admiration by the football community, but one has to raise a toast to the thousands of volunteers whose polite department has played its part in giving Qatar an exalted place in the football map of the World.
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Brazil Once Again The Favourite To Win "The Beautiful Game's” FIFA World Cup!

Qatar22 FIFA World Cup is almost upon us with the host nation — hoping to progress to the Group of 16 (second stage) — all set to challenge Ecuador, the fourth smallest nation in South America in the inaugural match on Sunday (Nov 20). Easily one of the greatest sports spectacle in the world ever since it was founded in 1930, the sport of football — that earned the sobriquet” The Beautiful Game” and was popularised by the greatest ever player — Brazilian Pele — has a mass appeal nonpareil. The Arab world’s first World Cup will be FIFA’s 22nd and the title has been won by Brazil five times, Germany and Italy four times each, Argentina, France and Uruguay two times each and England and Spain once each. As usual Brazil is the strong favourite to win the title and give Neymar his first World Cup, followed by Argentina which hopes to win the Cup and decorate Lionel Messi’s illustrious career. Cristiano Ronaldo will take the centre stage once again but his team Portugal is not as fancied as Brazil and Argentina or even Germany, England and France, the winner of the title four years ago in Russia. The Italians will be missed, but 32 qualifiers in eight groups will portray their brand of football to the millions watching the matches at the venues and on the small screen.
Steve Smith

“I’m Back, Baby” Says Steve Smith After Giving Up The Fidgety Shuffle

The quirkiest of techniques in a big walk across the stumps will not be seen anymore at the batting crease. Steve Smith, who made batting seem almost comical in his big shuffle and his mannerisms like tugging at his pads and gloves, has transformed into a still, almost statue-like approach to facing the cricket ball. He is so confident now about his reformed batting technique that he was heard telling his partner David Warner – “I’m back, baby”. Once the world’s top rated Test batsman who defied the fastest of bowlers while walking across his stumps to play them, Smith found himself less wanted in the white ball game. He was almost an anachronism in the T20 game because he was wedded to the old-fashioned technique of playing in the V. His innings in his new style against the white ball world champions England was significant. “I’m actually using the middle of the bat for once. I’m just standing a lot stiller, not moving as much. I feel good at the moment,” he told the commentary team on the mike during a break for drinks. Even more classical now at the crease, Smith is looking forward to making runs again. Maybe, his batting clone Marnus Labuschagne, will also give up the copycat gestures soon.
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Will TMC Minister’s Remark Against President Murmu Affect Didi’s Tribal Votes?

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee is on a two-day tour to the two most tribal-dominated districts of Jhargram and West Midnapore amid off-the-cuff remarks by one of her ministers regarding President Droupadi Murmu. The tour also holds significance, with an increase in Maoist activities and considerable hold of the BJP in this area. Didi first conducted administrative review meetings in West Midnapore and Jhargram, followed by a political rally at Midnapore College grounds. She also met the leaders and functionaries to brief them ahead of the rural polls. Incidentally, there is a potential electoral impact since tribal voters account for about 5.8% of Bengal’s total population and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won five of the eight tribal-dominated seats across the districts of Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, West Midnapore and Birbhum, popularly called Junglemahal. However, Didi recovered her lost ground by winning 28 of the 54 tribal-dominated seats in south Bengal which includes four Assembly seats in Jhargram and 13 of 15 constituencies in West Midnapore in 2021. According to party insiders, Mamata is worried about the reports of infighting in Jhargram between her tribal MLA Dulal Murmu and a strongman of the district leadership, Ujjal Dutta. She is also worried about the absence of her most trusted lieutenant Anubrata Mondal, who was also looking after the party functioning in West Midnapore, besides Birbhum.
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After Humiliating Defeat In T20 World Cup Will BCCI & Selection Committee Go For The Jugular?

Will heads roll following the Men in Blue team’s inept display against England in the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia? Not just going down to the Jos Buttler-led team, but beaten hollow defending a competitive total of 168 was most disappointing, which mirrored the inability of the bowling department to rise above the commonplace. The discerning were quite appalled at the team’s think tank for ignoring the claims of leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal right across the tournament. Rishabh Pant and Chahal ought to have been given permanency on the back of Pant’s run-getting ability on Australian pitches and the potential of Chahal in the big grounds. The BCCI whose president now is Roger Binny and the selection committee must look for ways to cause a big churn in the composition of the white ball teams. Hardik Pandya has to be the front-runner to take over as Twenty20 captain. Perhaps also the one day format should his back does not flare up.  The team needs to come out of the stereotype. The choices are limited; Pant has been named the vice-captain of the white ball teams and he could be given a run before next year’s World Cup in India. The BCCI is not known for knee jerk reactions… but fresh ideas are the need of the hour.
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Will Pakistan-England final draw big crowd?

Hayden Says India -Pakistan Match Was A Spectacle

The ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup began on a promising note for India when it scored a thrilling win against Pakistan at the Melbourne Ground on the first Sunday of the tournament ( Oct 23). Pakistan’s batting mentor and former Australian opener, Mathew Hayden said that he has not seen a sporting spectacle like that at the MCG, a famous cricket venue. Around 92000 paying spectators saw the India-Pakistan match The unfortunate aspect though is that India was given a sound thrashing by the England openers Jos Buttler and Alex Hales in the semi-finals whereupon Rohit Sharma’s team was ejected out of the final. India will not forget the drubbing. And as a consequence the vanquisher of the first Super 12 match will not be present in the cup final whereas the vanquished in the first match —   Pakistan will play the final against England. Beaten in the final of the Asia Cup in September by Sri Lanka, Pakistan is raring to go in order to win the title here. It was at the same venue in 1992 Pakistan led by Imran Khan won the World Cup defeating England in the final. Head coach Rahul Dravid could not hide his disappointment of losing to England in a manner to embarrass the team. The question is: what will the Indian supporters do with the tickets for the last match?
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How A Phone Call Led To England Storming Into The T20 World Cup Final

A phone call made several months ago was instrumental in Team England cruising into the final of the T20 World Cup. The call was made by the protagonist himself as Alex Hales picked up his mobile and called Rob Key, MD of England cricket, to present his case the moment he heard of Jonny Bairstow’s freak golf accident. Kept out of the England team from before the 2019 World Cup because he had failed a drug test twice, Hales was in cricketing wilderness for three years before he saw a door opening for him. His old partner in opening the innings in white ball cricket Jason Roy was woefully out of form and England’s captain Eoin Morgan had called it quits. Hales backed himself to fill the void. To Key’s credit, he took Hales’ case to the selectors, and they too agreed to give him a chance at redemption. The team management kept their cool as Hales came back into a difficult tour of Pakistan. Having recaptured his form in stands with his skipper Buttler, including in the game against New Zealand in the T20 World Cup league and then against Sri Lanka in a must win game, Hales simply took the Indian bowling attack to the cleaners, treating it with contempt at one of his favourite Adelaide Oval where had once scored a century in the Big Bash.
Vorat Kohli at T20 World Cup

Bookies Favour Team India In T20 World Cup

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Bookmakers have made Team India the favourite for the T20 World Cup. They are at 2.25 as against 2.5 for England, 3-1 New Zealand and 3.5 for Pakistan. The expectation is that the winner will come from the India-England semi-final. The slower Adelaide pitch and conditions can be said to favour India more with the short side boundaries suiting the team’s explosive batting. T20i cricket may be the hardest to predict but the chances are this Team India is rolling in higher gear now since beating Pakistan in the opening game. Starting trouble that used to plague India in Cup events is not there this time, which is another reason why the prospects of this team getting to the final seems better. England have a specialist T20 team too but what could hamper them is they are dependent on the top order to get them rolling and the top three could be hemmed in by the kind of movement available for Arshdeep and Bhuvi in the late spring conditions prevailing in Australia now. There is only one selection dilemma and that is probably already solved by Team India wishing to give Rishabh Pant more than just the one chance. He is a better bet to come off on the bouncier Aussie pitch than Karthik who may not be able to force the ball given the bounce.
Suryakumar

@surya_14kumar

Suryakumar Yadav’s ``Bindaas’’ Batting Wins Praise From Rahul Dravid

Surayakumar Yadav has won the highest praise from his coach, Rahul Dravid. A bulwark of the Indian team for over one and half decade, Dravid has waxed eloquent about Suryakumar’s `bindaas’ batting in the Twenty20 format. A few hours after Suryakumar had taken the Zimbabwe bowlers to the cleaners in the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 in Melbourne, playing shots some of which one would not find in coaching manuals, Dravid who earned the sobriquet `The Wall” said: It’s a joy and pleasure to see the way Suryakumar deploys the willow. In the second match after his debut at Motera in March 2021, he thrashed the England bowlers for a 31-ball 57 that floored England and won the match for India. There was a Caribbean streak to his batting; it has not changed much after nearly 21 months. On November 6, Suryakumar — also known as SKY, an acronym derived from his name — went on a leather hunt against the hapless Zimbabwe bowlers and took 21 runs of fast bowler Richard Ngarava and closed out his innings at an unbeaten 61 off 25 balls with 6 x 4s, 4 x 6s; two of which were swept from outside the off stump over backward square leg and over fine leg. Sterner tests await Suryakumar Yadav in the remaining part of the World Twenty20.
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@imVkohli

Virat Kohli's Prank Raises Bangladesh’s Hackles

Virat Kohli is in the news yet again. Not alone for his run getting ability —  he scored a third half century in the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup  against Bangladesh at the Adelaide Oval — but also for a prank on the field that some believe was tantamount to faking a throw. Law 41.5.1 says that it is unfair for any fielder wilfully to attempt by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batter after the striker has received the ball. The Law further says: It is for either one of the umpires to decide whether any distraction, deception or obstruction is wilful or not. The operative part is wilful which the umpires Marais Erasmus and Chris Brown deemed that Kohli’s mock throw was not wilful. Bangladesh’s Nurul Hasan though felt that Kohli’s action was to distract the player Hossain Shanto running towards the non-striker’s end, while the throw from Arshdeep Singh was directed towards the striker’s end. Obviously the on-field umpires did not intervene to summon the India captain Rohit Sharma or Kohli or have reported the incident to the match referee. It has been a matter of opinion among the fans and experts alike, but the umpires just went on with the game that India won by five runs.
Chetan Sharma

@chetans1987

Gaffe or Prediction: Chetan Sharma Says India Will Win The World Twenty20 Title

Was it a gaffe or a prediction? Close to midnight Adelaide time on Monday (Oct 31), Chetan Sharma was in good form telling a long time journalist Vijay Tagore:  “I am watching the team, I am with them. They are playing brilliant cricket. There are no problems. We (India) will win the World Cup. Don’t worry,” said Sharma, the Chairman of the BCCI senior national selection committee who is travelling with the Indian team.  Sharma’s soothsayer-like statement came at the end of the answer to a question on Dinesh Karthik being preferred over Rishabh Pant in the first three matches of the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 against Pakistan, Netherlands and South Africa. Sharma has been the Chairman of the selection committee from December 2020 and obviously he is quite optimistic of Rohit Sharma’s team — that lost to South Africa last Sunday (Oct 30) — winning the World Twenty20 for the second time after 2007. Sharma began saying that it would be improper to comment when the World Cup is going on and that it is for the captain and coach to respond to questions on playing XI selections and that he would definitely do that after the World Cup is over. All this happened after he announced the teams for a white ball series in New Zealand and Bangladesh and also a Test series in Bangladesh. At the end of it all Head Coach Rahul Dravid said: We have to play very well in four more games to win the World Cup.
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T20 World Cup

Men In Blue Are The Real Crowd Pullers, Anywhere In The World!

More than 90000 spectators turned up for the India-Pakistan World Twenty20 match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 23 and 36000 plus  for the India-Netherlands Group 2 league match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on October 27. The rest of the matches are going to be played at the Optus Stadium at Perth on Sunday (Oct 30) and Adelaide Oval before the last league match against Zimbabwe at the MCG again. The ICC has been smart to schedule India’s matches at venues that will draw a big crowd and rake in the moolah. Among the spectators are the faithful of the Indian kind from different parts of the USA, UK and Continental Europe. A Gujarati couple from Chowpatty, Mumbai but settled in Baltimore said they will follow the Indian team till the end and they have not travelled all the way from Baltimore just for one marquee match against Pakistan. Last October in the UAE, India lost the first two matches against Pakistan and New Zealand, but a year later Rohit Sharma’s team has reversed the trend in Australia by winning the first two matches. These two wins have raised the hopes of India winning the title, but as it happened in the third match on Thursday (Oct 27), Zimbabwe beat Pakistan by one run to almost eliminate Babar Azam’s team from the tournament. However with Virat Kohli ever so determined, India should reach the semi-finals from where it can be anybody’s game!
arshdeep singh

@arshdeepsinghh

Arshdeep Singh: The New Sensation Who Puts Batters On The Backfoot

Arshdeep Singh has come a long way in a short span of time and proved his mettle in the big league of international cricket. He was sounded out at the back-end of the IPL Season 15 by the selectors that they are looking at him as a contender for the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup. And that’s because he is a left-hand seamer, and potentially long term prospect — a rare talent among the fast and seam bowling variety in India’s domestic circuit. Last Sunday (Oct 23), the young kid on the block silenced the Pakistan supporters among the 90,000 odd who had come to watch the India-Pakistan skirmish at the Melbourne Cricket Stadium. Making his debut in an ICC event for the first time, Arshdeep manipulated the ball into the right hander bowling from over the wicket and the Pakistan skipper Babar Azam was trapped in front first ball. It was the fifth time that Azam was dispatched for a first ball duck. Azam has scored 3231 runs coming into the match; he had baulked India in the last year’s World Cup opener in the UAE. Arshdeep went on to dismiss Mohammed Rizwan and Asif Ali in his second spell and now has a tally of 22 wickets in 14 matches. The Sardar is turning out to be a real find!
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Photo : BCCI

India Vs Pakistan: Will It Be A Super Sunday?

India captain Rohit Sharma was a cool captain, deftly fielding questions on the eve of India’s opening ICC Men’s Twenty 20 World Cup match against Pakistan at the majestic Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. He readily acknowledged that Pakistan has always been a competitive side ever since he played against them in 2007 for the first time and that the supporters would hope to see a good match. Sharma has been the full time captain of the Indian team across all formats since October 2021. At the outset he pointed out that giving security (of their position in the team) has been the biggest change in the last 12 months.  The highest run getter in the Twenty20 format – the second being Virat Kohli — Sharma confessed that the team knows that India has not won an ICC event since 2013, but is not burdened by such thoughts. India and Pakistan have played three matches in the last 12 months, one in the last year’s World Twenty20 and twice in the Asia Cup. Well into his 30s, Sharma will not have the services of Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja and so he will have to depend on the exploits of Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Hardik Pandya and Arshdeep Singh to deliver the goods with ball, and also hope the spinners rise to the occasion.
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From Wankhede, Joshi To Pawar, Political Power Play At The Mumbai Cricket Association

Politicians, who take pot shots at each other in the Legislative Assembly, and at the hustings in the lead up to the elections day, have in the last three decades, virtually taken ownership of the top post in the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). And, Sharad Pawar has always been the playmaker when not occupying the MCA President’s post. He held the coveted post for 13 years with a resolution passed at a general body to extend his term beyond eight years. But it was the most affable personality in SK Wankhede, the assembly speaker who held the top post for 23 years — from 1963-64 to 1986-87. A former MCA official described Wankhede’s time as the most defining one in the history of the Association when it broke the umbilical cord with the Cricket Club of India and built its headquarters at D Road, Churchgate. Former officials also described Pawar’s contribution as significant because the Wankhede was refurbished for the 2011 World Cup and a new facility worth over many hundred crore now came into existence at the Bandra Kurla Complex. Manohar Joshi was MCA President for eight years and Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashish Shelar for around one year each. Vijay Patil hails from a family entrenched in politics and now Amol Kale, who is pitted against a cricketing hero Sandeep Patil is said to have good equations with Devendra Fadnavis. Truly, the politicians love the MCA.
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Didi Boldly Bats For Dada But May Be Bowled

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The West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee came out strongly in support of hometown boy and displaced BCCI President Sourav Ganguly. She wants the BJP government at the Centre to back Dada for the ICC president’s post. But it may be too late already as only a couple of days are left for filing a nomination for President ahead of the ICC meet in November. Didi made it clear that she was only batting for youngsters as she also supported Jay Shah continuing for a second term as BCCI Secretary. Ganguly got ejected from the ticket thanks to N Srinivasan, the former CSK owner and de facto boss, shooting down Dada when the cricket group met at Amit Shah’s house where Roger Binny’s candidature to replace Dada was worked out. The sitting ICC President Greg Barclay is seeking a second term and the BCCI may not like to rock the boat there. All Didi got in response to her backing for Dada is a snarky comment from BJP brass asking her why she cannot replace Shah Rukh Khan as Brand Ambassador for Bengal and give Ganguly the endorsement package. Dada lost out because he chose commerce over leadership role in BCCI by signing on with companies competing with the Board’s official sponsors in such fields as betting and gaming.
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Sandeep Patil, A True-Blue Mumbai Cricketer Takes On Amol Kale For The MCA President’s Post

Sandeep Patil, Shivaji Park and Mumbai cricket’s“ladke’’, has taken a shot at the president’s post of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) that’s going to take place on October 20. Patil who became a darling of the Mumbai maidans clouting 6s in the 1970s and 1980s, went on to become the “Adelaide Hero’’ when he slammed a breathtaking 174 against the hostile bowling attack in Dennis Lillee, Rodney Hogg and Len Pascoe unleashed by the Australian captain Greg Chappell. This grand knock came on the heels of his 62 against Pakistan’s Imran Khan & Co, at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Raised at the Balmohan Vidya Mandir under the famous coach Anna Vaidya, Patil became a World Cup hero in 1983 hammering a 32-ball unbeaten 51 in the semi-final against England at Old Trafford. One of India’s brightest stars in the 1980s, Patil made a swashbuckling 129 in the Old Trafford Test of 1982, hitting six 4s in a single over from fast bowler Bob Willis. Patil played 46 matches for Mumbai, scoring 3144 runs with 9 x 100s and 18 x 50s. Patil was a great entertainer and brought joy to the spectators. Will the representatives of the 213 maidan clubs, 69 office clubs, 36 school and colleges and 51 former international cricketers throw their weight behind Patil or his opponent Amol Kale, who was the vice-president in the preceding three years?
Collage Maker-14-Oct-2022-06

Amol Kale & Sandip Patil

NCP-BJP Team Up To Control Mumbai Cricket Association, Political Differences Apart

After many twists and turns, the name of BJP sympathiser Amol Kale has been finalised by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and BJP leader Ashish Shelar for presidentship of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). Kale will be fighting against cricketer Sandip Patil. The election has been full of continuous suspense since several bigwigs are involved in the MCA which controls huge finances. The election will take place on 20 October. Initially, Pawar was said to be supporting Patil. However, following meetings between him and Shelar, the last day of filing of nominations witnessed a totally changed picture. Pawar and Shelar were together, isolating Patil. It appeared that Shelar and Patil will face each other. But even that scene changed. Shelar had filed nomination for the post of treasurer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). As his is the sole candidature, he has been considered elected unopposed. Shelar persuaded Pawar to support Amol Kale, who has been vice president of MCA. Kale is said to be close to deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Another prominent name is that of Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s trusted associate Milind Narvekar, who is with the Pawar-Shelar group. MCA elections have always been laced with political manoeuvrings. Party differences are obliterated to help each other. It has happened again. 
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BCCI Wrong Foots Babumoshai Ganguly With Roger Michael Binny

Who will question the wisdom of those calling the shots in the BCCI,  especially in the choice of its president, in the run up to the elections of a sports organisation that showed a red of  Rs 95 lakh in the mid-1990s, but in close to three decades has assets worth several thousand crore. The 1983 World Cup fame Roger Michael Binny who was a vital cog in the wheels of Kapil’s Devils, accounting for 18 scalps, has been handpicked to lead the BCCI for the 2022-2025 period. Three years ago the BCCI, after a senior politician’s intervention, sided with Sourav Ganguly, when juxtaposed against Brijesh Patel. Three years later, the same people have wrong footed Babumoshai Ganguly and gone for Binny, who has excellent credentials as a former cricketer and individual; he is also the president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association. Binny hails from Karnataka, sort of a BJP bastion. The Lotus blooming in the BCCI is evident with BJP MLA Ashish Shelar (close confidant of Home Minister Shah, and who will be in the vanguard to deliver the BMC to the party) being chosen for the Treasurer’s post. Jay Shah who strove for the Secretary ‘s powers to be restored in the Supreme Court for three years and who made sure of the  IPL money coming into the BCCI coffers during the pandemic will be the Secretary for another three year term.
Obstruction-event

Jos Buttler Took Diplomatic Stand On ‘Obstructing The Field’ Incident

There was an intriguing sample of the kind of bizarre events likely to crop up during the T20 World Cup. The warm-up games, while providing plenty of action, are also a teaser to how players may react to Mankading and even “obstructing the field” incidents. Jos Buttler, the England captain who was once the victim of a controversial Mankad run out by Ravi Ashwin in the IPL, was at the centre of the storm as Team England was subject to a clear case of obstruction when the bowler Mark Wood was prevented from going for a return catch by Matthew Wade putting a hand on his chest. Wicket-keeper Buttler saw the event differently. He said his team were just setting out on a very long tour of Australia that includes The Ashes and he didn’t want to have an early brush with the notorious Australian crowds with a fair quota of yobos, hecklers and downright racist punters. “They asked if I wanted to appeal and I said ‘no’. I’ve only just got to Australia so I thought just carry on with the game,” Buttler said. He took the diplomatic route out, but his example is unlikely to be followed by players in the T20 World Cup who will exploit every opportunity to win matches. After all, the debate over Mankading is yet to settle after the Deepti-Charlie event in the women’s T20 in England.

TRENDS & VIEWS

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.