Praful Sohal

Jan 192016

If certain media reports are to be believed, the tickets for the ICC World Twenty20 to be held in India in March are likely to be up for grabs by the end of the week. With the World Cup starting in less than fifty days, the non-availability of match tickets has created panic and inconvenience to fans around the globe.

“It will be inappropriate to compare the ICC WT20 India 2016 with any previous event as the preparation for every event is different,” the ICC said.

The most affected from late availability of tickets would be the fans traveling from different parts of the world.  Making travel plans at a short notice makes it difficult to grab a cheap package. The BCCI had already come under heavy criticism for announcing the fixtures of the WT20 just three months prior to the world event.

However, the BCCI feels it is routine business.

“The dynamics of hosting an event in India were different, and it shouldn’t even be compared with the 2011 World Cup, which was co-hosted by three nations. There is still two months to go. The first match of the main tournament is on March 15. And it works differently in India anyway. The anticipation in the public only builds up closer to the event, but if the tickets are made available well in advance, those asking for complimentary passes make your life difficult”, said a BCCI insider.

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Aug 222015
High Court order for BCCI on CSK petition

The Madras High Court issued notice to BCCI on a petition by Chennai Super Kings. The petition challenged the order of Justice Lodha Committee suspended it from participating in IPL for two years over the 2013 betting and spot-fixing charges. A division bench also allowed Cricket Association of Bihar, on whose plea the Supreme Court had directed probe in IPL-6 betting and spot fixing scandal, to implead in the case.

The next court hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The bench said, “We would like to hear the concerned parties on the issue of maintainability of the petition first in the context of the relief sought in the past proceedings and orders passed by Honourable Supreme Court before we proceed to examine the issue on merits.”

In an affidavit, CSK sought a stay on the decision, alleging that the Lodha panel’s July 14 order is against the fundamental principles of natural justice and fair hearing.

“The refusal of the Justice Lodha Commission to enter into the dispute of whether the Franchise (CSK), its owner India Cements Ltd, were guilty of violating Clause 4.1.1 of the IPL operational rules has led to grave miscarriage of justice,” said the company in its affidavit.

While referring to the Supreme Court order in January last, the petition said, “Gurunath Meiyappan had been guilty of betting but not spot fixing, match fixing or misuse of inside information. Meiyappaan never had shares in India Cements nor was he is in the management of the company.”

 “During the two years of suspension, CSK would lose its brand and it would cease to exist as a team,” he contended, adding, “thousands of fans of CSK would be aggrieved“.

“The brand dies, team dies, and the city itself loses, during the two years,” he contended.

Meanwhile, according to sources, the BCCI is mulling the option of handing over the two suspended IPL teams to banks or reliable financial institutions. It is learnt that the board is also open to giving the reins of CSK and Rajasthan Royals to reputed law firms.

The eight-team format is suiting IPL best. The governing council will take a call on this before giving suggestions to the working committee,” said a source.

Aug 152015
Thanks for the memories Sanga!

133 Test matches, 231 innings, 12350 runs at an average of 58 with 38 hundreds, 11 double-hundreds (only player to do so after Bradman) and of course not forgetting the 182 catches and 20 stumpings. And there’s still a match to go! Sangakkara’s Test record stands tall in the list of all-time greats to have graced the game. But no records or figures can exactly measure the impact that he made on the Sri Lankan team and world cricket.

Sanga, throughout his 15-year long career played with a fearless determination and liberty. He was more than just a prolific run scorer who liked to hit the ball square of the wicket on the off-side. It was his out-and-out ability to work himself to succeed at the international level. Hard work came naturally to him and that’s what made him the run machine that he was. Surprising as it may sound, Sangakkara started his international career on a mediocre note. He averaged in the mid-20s with a moderate strike rate of under 70 in 75 ODI innings. Even in Tests, he hardly touched the average of 40 after a couple of years. But, he overpowered all his challenges with his strong work ethics and determination. His friends and well-wishers say that he would always stay in the nets longer than everybody else and continue batting until he felt like he had improved his game. It did not happen suddenly but through tireless work throughout the years and he ended up a dominant batsman in all formats.

It would be a mistake to think that Sanga piled up so many Test runs without altering his setup. His ability to adapt in different conditions and against different set of bowlers made him the legend that he is. His body stance and setup would depend on whether he’s facing a Steyn or a Boult. Probably, that is why he has the record of scoring a century against every Test playing nation.

His partnership with good friend Mahela Jayawardene is something that will be dearly missed. Never again will a Sri Lanka side featuring both Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene play at a venue is difficult to think. No duo has scored more runs while batting together than Sangakkara-Jayawardene. They sit comfortably on top with 13,356 runs when batting together, well ahead of India’s Tendulkar and Ganguly.

No matter how glistening Sanga’s career was, he always had his doubters. Many people argued that he was a flat track bully and that most percentage of his runs came against minnows like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. However, a counter point could be put that the Lankan didn’t get the opportunity to play much cricket in tougher conditions like Australia. Sangakkara played only 5 Tests down under due to some crude scheduling. Despite that, he averages over 60 in Australia with six half-centuries.

It wasn’t easy for him, on or off the field. He was one of the six cricketers who was injured in a terrorist attack in Lahore back in 2009. Whether it was dealing with an incompetent cricket administration or players’ salary crisis, Sanga always played with a straight bat.

He was always frank and an astute thinker. His memorable speech at the MCC Spirit of Cricket Lecture in 2011 struck everyone. He courageously took on the corrupt practices of SLC. He defined what it meant and what it is to play for one’s land.

He remained the cornerstone of Sri Lankan cricket for most part of his career. His gigantic appetite for runs increased with every passing game. He has quietly gone about his business scoring mammoth centuries, keeping wickets, breaking and setting new world records and leading sides.

It has now become a saying in Sri Lankan cricket: If Arjuna Ranatunga was the creator, Sanath Jayasurya the destroyer, then Sanga and Mahela will be fondly remembered as the protectors.

And the legend will quietly go for his last hurrah in Colombo next week.

You will be missed Sanga!

Apr 092015
IPL 2015 (CSK v DD): Super Kings survive Morkel show; win by 1 run

Home Team and favourites Chennai Super Kings started the IPL 8 on a winning note by defeating a new looking Delhi Daredevils by just one run at Chepauk today.

Match-Report (IPL 2015): Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils at MA Chidambaram Stadium (Chepauk), April 09, 2015

Delhi skipper JP Duminy won the toss and elected to bowl first in extremely humid conditions on what looked like a good batting wicket. Surprisingly, Delhi Daredevils left out veteran Zaheer Khan and World Cup hero Mohammed Shami from the playing XI. Chennai, meanwhile went with du Plessis, McCullum, Bravo and DR Smith as their four overseas players.

Opener DR Smith started on a brisk note as he ripped apart Albie Morkel for 16 runs in the very first over itself. Coulter-Nile shared the new ball with Morkel and found instant success. McCullum charged down the wicket off the second ball, hit it high in the air but was caught by Yuvraj at third man. Smith continued his prowess with the bat at the other end by scoring ten more in the third over. Though Coulter-Nile struck back again in his second over to remove star batsman Suresh Raina for just four by rattling his stumps. du Plessis joined Smith and continued to counter-attack before the latter fell for 31. Leggie Imran Tahir bagged the crucial wicket. At 78-3, Dhoni promoted Jadeja. However, the momentum started to shift towards the bowling side as spinners Tahir and Mishra along with Duminy applied the breaks on free flowing runs. The pressure started to build and Delhi bowlers tasted further success. CSK scored just 54 from overs 11 to 19 and lost three wickets. Just when 140 was looking out of reach, Dhoni kept his cool and stitched together a partnership with the late middle order to take the team total to a respectable but below par 150 in 20 overs.

Ashish Nehra began the proceedings for CSK. He nabbed the wickets of CM Gautam and Mayank Aggarwal in his second over to put the Daredevils on backfoot straightaway. However, Morkel promoted to No. 3 continued to score at will from his end. He made a critical 60 run stand with Kedar Jadav in the middle overs to rescue the sinking ship and gave his team something to play for in the closing overs.

The move to not send Yuvraj and Duminy early backfired as both star players lost their wickets without any significant contribution due to the pressure of climbing required run rate. With 49 more to get in 5 overs, the lower middle order failed to support Morkel who had held one fort. The South African all-rounder targeted the long-on boundary regularly and managed to sneak a boundary every over. Nehra bowled a wonderful penultimate over filled with yorkers. 

With 19 to get off the final over, bowler DJ Bravo gave just 3 in his first three deliveries. Morkel hit the next over long-on for a massive six under pressure. He hit the fifth ball towards deep backward point where Raina did an excellent job to keep it to just two runs as the ball was spinning. Bravo bowled the final delivery a bit widish, Morkel went after it, smashed it towards wide of long-off and it fell just short of a six, for a boundary. The Delhi team was left wanting for just a run to tie and two to win!

CSK sealed the first thriller of IPL 8 by 1 run!

Scorecard:CSK 150/7 in 20 overs (Smith 34, Coulter-Nile 3/30) beat DD 149/9 in 20 overs (Morkel 73*, Nehra 3/25)

Player(s) of the Match: Albie Morkel (Delhi Daredevils) and Ashish Nehra (Chennai Super Kings)

Disappointment of the day: Yuvraj Singh (Delhi Daredevils)

Oct 212014
Dhoni rested for SL series; Kohli to lead India

The BCCI selection committee announced the squad for the first three of the five match ODI Series against Sri Lanka starting November 2. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been rested for the same as Virat Kohli will captain the Indian Team.

Bengal keeper Wriddhiman Saha will cover for Dhoni while Murali Vijay will continue as the reserved opener following Rohit Sharma’s injury. He, however will play for India ‘A’ in a warm up game against Sri Lanka. Seamer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was rested who will be placed by Varun Aaron. 19 year old Kuldeep Yadav failed to retain his place in the squad despite not playing a single match against West Indies. Ravichandran Ashwin will make his comeback into the team after a break.

The one-day series will be the last chance for the Indian Team Management to fill in the missing slots in the team ahead of the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. A keen contest is expected between Amit Mishra and Akshar Patel for the remaining spinner in the team.

The five venues for the ODI series are – Cuttack, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmadabad and Ranchi. The dates for the series will be announced shortly.

Team for first 3 ODIs v SL :Team for first 3 ODIs v SL : Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, W Saha, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Murali Vijay, Varun Aaron, Akshar Patel.

Oct 162014
Cricket Australia mulling domestic overhaul

Cricket Australia (CA) is mulling the options of introducing a draft system at the rookie level to be able to compete with other sports disciplines for fresh talent in the country. CA’s general manager of team performance Pat Howard admitted the idea of a player draft was being planned for an upcoming meeting with representatives from each of the state associations.

“We’re not after all athletes but we want to make sure we keep the cricketers. I’m open to things like drafts,” Howard said on Monday. “We’re going to throw a whole heap of things on the table.”

“We introduced Big Bash League rookies last year to give those talented kids an opportunity at the back end of squad. We think that was a good start but we think we’ve got to have a mechanism there for when a kid is 17, 18, 19 and maybe getting a draft offer and a contract from another sport that we’ve got something equally as compelling.”

“We’ve got 160-odd contracted spots and [the other sports codes] have significantly more than that. But our view is in cricket you’ve got the longest career span, you can play for your country and you’ve got the highest average wage… it’s well into the $ (A) 300,000s, and that’s without the IPL. So we think we’ve got a really attractive offer but we’ve obviously got to be very competitive.”

“We want the top 150-odd contracted players in the country playing and we want them spread around the nation and making sure that competitiveness is there,” Howard said. “We see it happen occasionally. But we’ve got an opportunity to get that talent spread and make sure that competition at domestic level is very competitive,” he added.

Oct 132014
Pujara may continue stint with Derbyshire next year

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara could well be back for the 2015 County Season for his team Derbyshie.

“We’ve spoken to Pujara already and he seemed quite keen to come back. He integrated into the team brilliantly and I think he enjoyed the lads here. He wants to test himself in English conditions, so this is probably the best place for him,” said Graeme Welch who is the performance director of Derbyshire.

We’ll have to look at their schedule and try and get somebody in for those three months that he isn’t here. There could be a lot of Australians hanging around because they might want to be in the country ahead of the Ashes tour,” he said when asked about Pujara’s unavailability during the IPL season next year.

“We just got to keep our ear to the ground and go from there. We’ll have to see where we are with the budget in terms of possibly signing a second overseas for T20. We of course want to improve our performances in that format and this could be one option,” he added.

Pujara had opted to play in County Cricket following his poor performance in the Pataudi trophy in August this year. He performed well for Derbyshire, scoring an unbeaten 90 and 100 in the final two fixtures of the County Championship after failing in the first match.

Oct 072014
Dhoni to experiment against Windies ahead of World Cup 2015

With the World Cup 2015 barely four months away, Indian captain Mahendra Singh today made it clear that the home team will look to experiment a few things in the ODI Series against West Indies starting tomorrow in Kochi. He, however, added that winning the series is of prime importance for his team.

“We want to see the bigger picture here. We want to do a few things (in the series) because you don’t want to go to Australia and say we should have done this, we should have done that. We will see what our cricketers can offer (against West Indies) and I will also see what best I can do,” Dhoni said at the pre-match presser.

“But it is important to start well and look to win the series. This is first and foremost in our minds,” he added.

The upcoming series against West Indies will be India’s last ODI Series before the World Cup Team is announced as the tri-series in Australia starts on 16th  January and the deadline for naming the final fifteen is January 14th 2015 – exactly a month before the World Cup begins.

With Rohit Sharma out of the series due to injury, it will be a golden opportunity for Ajinkya Rahane to cement his position as an opener for the World Cup and the skipper too dropped hints that Rahane could be the one to partner Shikhar Dhawan.

“I personally feel Ajinkya (Rahane) has really held through his job as an opener, even in IPL he opens. He has been very consistent against both seamers and spinners. He should take the responsibility of being the opener. Ajinkya has opened for us in the past also in England earlier, not in the recent tour, before that,” Dhoni said.

“Ideally, Ajinkya as an opener and Rohit down the order suits us but that is something we will have to wait and watch. Definitely, we have some plans in that area. I still feel Ajinkya has much more to offer,” he added.

Dhoni, meanwhile expressed concerns on India’s death bowling.

“We have to get the executions right. We have to improve because we do not have too many fast bowlers who bowl quick and still maintain a good line and length. If you do not bowl quick and stray in line, it will be easy for a batsmen. Executing plans are not negotiable. Successful bowlers always bowl good yorkers and mix it up with slower deliveries,” the skipper said.

On uncapped Kuldeep Yadav’s selection just few months before the World Cup, Dhoni said that he deserved to be tested.

“We will see as to how he (Kuldeep) copes up with international cricket. What we saw in the Champions League Twenty20 was that being a wrist spinner he was getting a bit of purchase and still he has the knack of confusing the batsmen.

“We will see how he copes up with higher levels of cricket, how he soaks up the pressure in front of over 40,000 people,” he added.

Sep 252014
Windies recall Samuels, Taylor for India series; Gayle to miss out

West Indies have included fast bowler Jerome Taylor along with batsmen Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels in their 15-member squad for the five-match one-day series against India next month.

Both Samuels and Smith were dropped for the series against Bangladesh. The duo last played a game against England in March this year. Fast bowler Jerome Taylor makes a comeback in One Day Internationals after a four-year hiatus.

Meanwhile, Chris Gayle will miss the series as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Guyana batsman Leon Johnson, who made his Test debut recently against Bangladesh, has played just three ODIs. He will replace Kirk Edwards who had a dismal run against Bangladesh.

The 5 match ODI Series starts from October 8 in Kochi.

West Indies Squad for ODI Series against India : 

Dwayne Bravo (capt), Darren Bravo, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor.

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