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Ajinkya Rahane

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

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

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

The chips are down for India in the ICC WTC final against Australia at `The Oval’ in London. After six sessions, Australia has its foot at the door to win the Test championship for the first time. The same venue had delivered a famous first away victory for India in England in 1971 when the Ajit Wadekar-led Indian team outwitted the home team led by the shrewd Ray Illingworth. Then, Wadekar deployed the likes of the cunning left-arm spinner Bishen Singh Bedi, the accurate S Venkataraghavan and the sleight of hand of right-arm leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar to bring down England. Some 52 years later, India opted for a pace-centric attack ignoring the claims of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (132 wickets in two ICC WTC cycles).  With the impending defeat — with three days of play remaining — the former Australian captain Ricky Ponting and opener Mathew Hayden, have pointed out a significant flaw in the Indian team selection that one cannot pick a bowling attack for the first day’s play. Having opted for Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur, Sharma had no option but to field upon winning the toss. The pacers had a rewarding outing on the second day, dismissing seven Australians for 142, but by then, the horse had already bolted – Australia had made 327 for three on Day 1, thereby ending the probability of a real showdown.
Ashwin_008 bcci


Will India Pick Ravi Ashwin For The ICC WTC Final?

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

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

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

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

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

Of Atal Bihari Vajpayee And Cricket Diplomacy With Pakistan

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


Yashasvi Jaiswal: Rarest Gem Among IPL Performers

Yashasvi Jaiswal has just proved that he is the rarest talent to have emerged in Indian cricket for a very long time. There will be a lot of claimants now on who groomed him. The quick transition he has made into a modern T-20 batsman with several strokes in the 360 degrees marks him as one who has arrived and is ready for the international stage. There should be no hesitation now in putting him right at the top of the order in the white ball game. All the stories about his selling pani puri on the periphery of a Mumbai maidan at friendly snack stalls can be consigned to history. The background he comes from as a cricket emigre from his home state of Uttar Pradesh will fill newspaper and online space. What is important is the recognition he deserves and the opportunity to prove himself in tougher arenas. In playing a remarkable innings of 98* on a two-paced pitch that seemed to put everyone else off he has shown the range of his talent that can match the best in the white ball business like his opening partner Jos Buttler. Team India beckons a batter who looks a perfect fit for the rough and tumble of the international white ball game which is several notches above IPL game because of its intensity.
Rishabh Pant


Indian Cricket Very Anxious On Rishabh Pant's Come Back

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

In Anodyne World Of Tutored Commentary, Harsha Bhogle Stands Out

Harsha Bhogle drew praise recently for making Mahendra Singh Dhoni feel so much at home in the post-match interview that he opened his mind on impending retirement. The popular commentator is a rare one from the amateur world of early radio days to make it big in the professional world of TV cricket commentary of today. In an anodyne world of tutored speaking that is largely controlled by BCCI, which virtually owns world cricket and hates contrary ideas and words, Bhogle survives in a rat race of former players looking to don the mike and making a buck after retirement. Cricket jobs are virtually monopolised by ex-players who rarely let any competition in. But there are exceptions in this controlled world of opinionated speakers like Sanjay Manjrekar who sprouts independent opinions, not always good. He is one of the few who speaks his mind, however poorish the diction may be and however misplaced his low opinion of performers who prove him wrong so often. Ravi Shastri had blazed a trail of airing his opinions freely in a professional manner before becoming an Establishment figure in his coaching days. There are too many others who fit the bland stereotypical, obedient, middle-of-the-road ‘gobs on sticks’ in the commentary box. There are very few on the IPL scene who match Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain in informed, entertaining comment on what goes on in the middle
IPL capts


Rs 735 Crore Windfall For Associations Staging IPL

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


Focus Rivetted On Arjun, The Legendary Sachin Tendulkar's Son

Arjun Tendulkar has bowled the first over of the powerplay, and thereby the first over of the match itself, and the last over (40th) of an IPL match. Both tough overs when the batsmen throw their wrists to get going, especially in the first six overs when only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle. Son of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Arjun has been in the news ever since the five-time winner of the league Mumbai Indians made a successful bid for him at Rs 30 lakhs at the player auction in February last. The 23 year old is a left arm seamer who has played a few matches in the BCCI’s domestic tournaments for Mumbai and Goa. He has also played two Under-19 Test matches for India. He was often seen at the MI nets before the franchise chose him for the 2021 IPL season. The inability of left arm seamer Arshad Khan to make a big impact in the first three matches may have hastened Arjun’s IPL debut against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede. Arjun gave just five runs in the first over and when given the last (death) over against the Sunrisers Hyderabad — when he had 19 to defend — he bowled to the field and took his first IPL wicket too. In two matches Arjun has held his own!
Irani cup

The BCCI Loosens Its Purse Strings, Not So Much The State Associations

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

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

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


IPL Fledgling Rinku A Hit For Shah Rukh Khan’s KKR!

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

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

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

Salim Durani Was One Of A Kind 'Prince Of Cricket'

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

Hardik Pandya And NaMo Stadium Mix Could Attract Huge Footfall For Gujarat Titans

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

BCCI To Benefit From ICC's $ 3 Bn Media Rights Deal With Disney Star

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


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

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


Mumbai Cricket Fans Deserve Pat On The Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

Given the option, India chose one of the black soil varieties and got the two ends of pitch (in front of the batter) scoured to the extent it desired, and yet got the taste of its own medicine in the third Test at the Holkar Stadium, Indore. It appears that a pitch of the red soil make-up was the initial preferred choice of the home team, but people privy to what goes on between the team management and the State association said that a black soil that deters consistent bounce was ordered to be prepared four days before the start of the Test. It was on a pitch of like texture that India dictated terms in Nagpur and New Delhi, but the team that was vanquished there hit back and outplayed India in the end by nine wickets.  Pitches in India have always been tinkered with to suit its spin-strength with the ultimate aim of winning the home series. The last Test will be played at Motera in Ahmedabad, where the prime ministers of the two countries will be in attendance on March 9. The pattern of the black soil pitch is likely to be pursued for yet another time in the last Test. Two years ago England lost two Test matches in five days at Motera in Ahmedabad, but Australia turned out to be a tough customer in Indore and it will be tough to beat now in the series-ending match in Ahmedabad.
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The Million Dollar Question: Will KL Rahul Play In Indore?

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


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

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

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

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


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


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.
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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!

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


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.
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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!
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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!
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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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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


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 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.

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!
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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.


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.


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.

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.


Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.