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Fast bowlers could be this IPL’s dark horses

Despite conditions favouring spinners due to high temperature and dry pitches, likes of Rabada, Bumrah and Steyn will have high expectations from their fans and franchises

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The most dynamic and vibrant battle between bat and bowl is all set to kick off with the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on 19 September in UAE. The best of cricket will finally take to the field, though the absence of spectators will certainly have a hitch on the game.

Despite conditions favouring spinners due to high temperature and dry pitches, likes of Ben Stokes, Jasprit Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada, Pat Cummins, Dale Steyn, Deepak Chahar and Trent Boult will have high expectations from their fans as well as respective franchises.

As the opening match is scheduled a night ahead, the defending champions Mumbai Indians seem to have one of the most lethal squads of fast bowlers combining Boult with Jasprit Bumrah, regarded as the most prolific pacer in world cricket and had the best season last year as he fetched 19 wickets. Also,bowlers like Mitchel McClenaghan and Hardik Pandya have experience and energy to boost the team’s chances.

Chennai Super Kings, with Deepak Chahar in their squad, will surely expect to give nightmares to mighty MI in the first match of this season. Chahar was amongst the top-notch bowlers of IPL 2019, and was shy of four wickets from winning the purple cap. He is expected to get decent support from Shardul Thakur who has been leading the attack for CSK, including Bravo and Shane Watson. CSK will try its best to restrict the opposing team at the low scores.

The runner up of last season, Delhi Capitals, has come a long way from settling at the bottom of the table to be- ing the top contenders, but it would have never been possible without the likes of Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Mohit Sharma, Harshal Patel, and debutant Lalit Yadav. The team will heavily depend on Sharma, who has enough experience to be counted. Patel’s last year’s performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament draws eyes towards him as he clinched 19 wickets and scored more than 350 runs.

Bhubneshwar Kumar along with Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmad, and Siddharth Kaul will have a huge responsibility to rise above all and take the team to the end of the game. Kumar has been phenomenal for the team with his stunning Yorkers and economy but recently he has struggled a lot for his fitness and with his consistency. This season could be a game-changer for Bhubneshwar, as T20 World Cups are scheduled next year and if he performs well his prospect in the team could be considered.

The KKR’s franchise is riding on high notes with its vic- tory in the Caribbean Premier League but its poor consistency in the last three seasons of IPL will keep things on serious notes in the dugout.

Bowlers like Pat Cummins, Andre Russel, and Lockie Fergusen will have to bring their character in the ground. From providing breakthroughs to the team to be the guiding force for the talented and promising youngsters like Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, and Sivam Manvi.

Russel and Pat Cummins, being foreigners and having enough game played will be key for the team, and the franchise will expect them to frequently adapt to the new environment in the UAE.

Kings X1 Punjab is the most underperformed team of the IPL, as they always looked good on paper but unfortunately, they failed to perform on the ground which led to their exclusion. Mohammad Shami will be leading the attack for the team with Sheldon Cortell, who can contribute with bat and ball both, James Neesham, Ravi Bishnoi, and Murugan Ashwin whose mystery is yet unsolved.

Might Ben Stokes along with Jofra Archer and Varun Aaron will lead the attack for Rajasthan Royals in the leadership of Steve Smith. The team’s pace bowling attack looks fierce with more pacers like Jayadev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye.

The team looks impressive with the set of bowlers they have in their kit but without a team effort and consistent effort from each player, it won’t matter a lot.

Inconsistent, no luck, and team crumbles in a pressure game, three terms to define the overall career of Royal Challengers Bangalore. The team is studded with star players in every department and at times they outperform their opposition in every department but as they reach close to finals or trophy they collapse like a pack of cards.

Bowlers like Chris Morris, Umesh Yadav, Dale Steyn, Md. Siraj will raise hopes for skippers and if they perform with consistency and as per the requirement they hold the capability to knock off any world-class batsmen in the world. These bowlers have pulled off games for the team and proved their worth but the team is yet to take a victory lap and hopefully, this could be the end of the drought for the franchise.

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Nasser Hussain lashes out at England’s batsmen after collapse against New Zealand

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Former skipper Nasser Hussain lashed out on England’s batsmen for not adopting the conventional approach following a collapse on day three of the second Test against New Zealand on Saturday. England crumbled on day three before taking a slender lead of 37 runs before the end of the play. The hosts ended the day at 122/9 after losing seven wickets in the final session of the day. Nasser said England are trying to “reinvent the wheel” in the longest format of the game.

“There seems to have been a reinvention of the wheel out there with batting. Techniques out there that everyone else who has played the game before – they are all wrong and we are right,” Sky Sports quoted Nasser as saying. “We’re going to have these odd little techniques, we’re going to have the bat coming across it, we’re going to stand funny, we’re going to swing outside our off stump because everyone else in the history of the game – Viv Richards, you are wrong, and we are right,” he added.

The former skipper said England can’t even give the excuse of the pitches turning since they are playing in the home conditions.“I’m not seeing ‘we are right’ at the moment, whether it be in Sri Lanka where Joe Root carried them, whether it be in India and they don’t have the excuse of the pitches turning here,” said Nasser. Nasser wants England to adopt the old-school method and get that big first innings score when playing Test cricket. “Whether it being the seaming ball or the spinning ball, they are right and everyone else is wrong. And I don’t see a young batting line-up,” he said. “I see Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Root and Pope. There’s no one missing in that top five – then come Stokes and Buttler. They’ve got all the coaches, all the backroom staff – please, just get back to playing normally and getting a first innings score,” Nasser added. Resuming their innings from 229/3, New Zealand took the scorecard to 312/5 in the first session on Saturday. England picked up two wickets in the morning session but New Zealand managed to take the lead by 23 runs.

In the second session, New Zealand was folded for 388 but the visitors took a handy first-innings lead of 85 runs. Moreover, England lost two quick wickets before the Tea as Henry removed both openers. In the final session, England crumbled in front of New Zealand bowlers as they lost seven wickets to serve a probable win for New Zealand on Sunday. England is currently leading by 37 runs but they have only one wicket in hand.

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Christian Eriksen ‘stable’ in hospital after on-field collapse

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Danish Football Association on Sunday informed that Christian Eriksen’s condition is “stable” and the star player continues to be “hospitalised”. The Euro Cup match between Denmark and Finland had to be stopped in the first half as Eriksen collapsed on the pitch and he had to be taken off due to medical emergency. “This morning we have spoken to Christian Eriksen, who has sent his greetings to his teammates. His condition is stable, and he continues to be hospitalized for further examination,” Danish Football Association said in a statement.

“The team and staff of the national team has received crisis assistance and will continue to be there for each other after yesterday’s incident. We would like to thank everyone for the heartfelt greetings to Christian Eriksen from fans, players, the Royal Families from both Denmark and England, international associations, clubs etc,” the statement further read. “We encourage everyone to send their greetings to the Danish FA, where we will make sure they are all passed on to Christian and his family,” it added.Eriksen’s teammates had formed a ring around him as he was being attended by doctors on the field. The midfielder was carried off in a stretcher. UEFA agreed to restart the match later in the evening. Finland defeated Denmark 1-0 in the opener.

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New Zealand will have advantage of playing two Tests before WTC final, says Pujara

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India top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has said that New Zealand will have the advantage of playing two Tests ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final. Pujara’s comments came ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand, slated to begin on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton. Earlier this year, an injury-ravaged India had managed to defeat Australia 2-1 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and then the side defeated England 3-1 to enter the finals of WTC. “Personally, it means a lot to be here because I just play one format, it means a lot. We have worked really hard over a period of time to reach here. I am sure all the guys are looking forward to playing in the finals. Winning the finals will mean a lot to us, but even reaching the finals, the team has worked really hard for two years. Playing in different conditions in one particular day here is the most challenging part at times for a batsman,” Pujara told bcci.tv.

“If it rains, you go off the field and suddenly, it stops raining and then you start again. There are breaks in between and that is where you need to understand the challenge. Mentally you need to be strong, concentration needs to be there. New Zealand will have the advantage of playing two Tests before the WTC final but you know, when it comes to the finals, we will give our best. We know our team has the potential to win the championship,” he added. Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said that leading the side in place of Virat Kohli in Australia was the proudest moment for him and he also talked about the upcoming WTC final.

“Over the last two years, we have played consistent cricket as a team. Reaching the finals of the World Test Championship is a result of that. It was not easy as Test cricket requires you to give your best at every stage. We started the WTC cycle against West Indies, and ever since then, we have done well as a unit. We will think of the WTC final as just another game, we have gotten good preparation time here in Southampton. I am excited and as a team, we are really excited, we will look to give our best in the finals,” said Rahane.

“As a batsman, you always say that you love challenging conditions, and England is such a place. If you get set, it is a very nice place to bat. As a batsman, I always believe that when you play the ball late, it will be better. As a batsman, you are never set here. One ball and you can lose your wicket. When I led the country in Australia, that was the proudest moment for me. Winning the series after losing the first match, it was really special and it is a very big thing for all of us,” he added.On Sunday, New Zealand defeated England by eight wickets in the second Test to clinch the two-match series 1-0.The Indian cricket team had landed in Southampton on June 3 and after that, every member of the touring contingent underwent three-day mandatory hard quarantine. At the Hampshire Bowl, the players were tested again before commencing a period of managed isolation. Regular tests will be conducted during the period of isolation.

Prior to departing for England, India head coach Ravi Shastri said, International Cricket Council (ICC) should look to make the final of the WTC a best-of-three contest and it could be played like a three-match series.

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DJOKOVIC CREATES HISTORY IN FRENCH OPEN, KREJCIKOVA WINS WOMEN’S SINGLES TITLE

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Novak Djokovic won his 19th Grand Slam title after coming back from 2 sets down against 5th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open 2021 men’s singles final at Roland Garros in Paris on Sunday. Djokovic clinched glory after downing the spirited Grand Slam final debutant 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Novak Djokovic, who played 18 sets since his fourth-round match, became the first man in the Open Era to win all 4 Grand Slams at least twice. He is only the third man to do so after Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.

“It was an electric atmosphere. I want to thank my coach and my physio, everyone who has been with me on this journey,” Djokovic said post the win.

Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova along with her partner Katerina Siniakova on Sunday won the women’s double title here at the ongoing French Open. This comes a day after Krejcikova won the women’s singles title on Saturday. In the doubles event, Krejcikova and Siniakova defeated the pair of Iga Swiatek and Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4 6-2. With this victory, Krejcikova has become the first player to win both the women’s singles and doubles event at the French Open since Mary Pierce achieved the feat way back in 2000.

Krejcikova has also become the first woman to win both the singles and doubles events at a Grand Slam since Serena Williams in 2016. On Saturday, Krejcikova fought an intense battle to become the first woman from her country to clinch the French Open singles title since Hana Mandlikova in 1981. Krejcikova defeated Russian tennis star Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 to lift her maiden singles major trophy.

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Why Virat Kohli should bowl a few overs in ODIs

Virat Kohli was very confident about his bowling in the domestic matches. He felt that he had wicket-taking ability. In the initial years, he even bowled in IPL. So, why has he stopped bowling now?

Raj Kumar Sharma

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When batsmen like Sachin Tendulkat, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and Sourav Ganguly used to bowl, it helped the main bowlers to have a break. All these part-time bowlers sometimes bowled very well and took one or two wickets as well. At that time, the team management decided for a four-bowler formula in which they included one extra batsman.

Even though Indian captain Virat Kohli is known for his batting, he was seen bowling during the match. A moment came on Day 2 of the intra-squad practice match when Kohli was seen bowling to his opposition captain K.L. Rahul. I was pleased to see that scene on twitter.

The BCCI uploaded a video of the moment in slow-motion and asked fans to explain what would happen next. “Captain vs Captain at the intra-squad match simulation. What do you reckon happened next?” the BCCI post read. Three options were also given in the post—Straight-drive (OR) Defense (OR) LBW. I can only say that Virat was very confident about his bowling in the domestic matches. He broke valuable partnerships. He felt that he had wicket taking ability. In the initial years, he even started bowling in IPL. But when Albee Morkel hit 4 sixes on his four balls, this broke his confidence in bowling.

Virat has taken four wickets in ODI and the same number of wickets in T20I. In ODI, he has taken the wicket of Alastair Cook, Quinton de kock, Brendon McCullum and Craig Kieswetter. In T20I, he got the wicket of Kevin Pieterson and it was very much talked about. Summit Patel, Mohd. Hafeez and Jason Charles were the other victims of Virat.

Virat has wrong foot action and still feels that he can bowl a few overs in the middle. He is keen to bowl for the simple reason to maintain his fitness, to give breaks to bowlers and for the fact that bowling is his passion. I think there is no harm if he bowls two to three overs in an ODI. Dhoni also used his ability from time to time. He can surprise anyone even in this format. He can be a useful change bowler.

(The writer is the Virat Kohli`s coach and Dronacharya Awardee)

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Ngidi, Nortje put Proteas in command against West Indies

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GROS ISLET [ST LUCIA]: South Africa’s Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje stole show with the ball before West Indies’ Jayden Seales picked three on debut as 14 wickets fell on opening day of first Test between West Indies and South Africa at Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in Gros Islet, St Lucia.

The visitors were clearly on top at the end of the first day as Ngidi (5/19) and Nortje (4/35) combined to dismiss the home team for just 97. Coming out to bat, the Proteas ended the day on 128/4 — a lead of 31 runs with six wickets in the bag.The home team had something to cheer about as debutant Seales bagged three wickets to keep hosts in the game.

While he started with the wicket of Keegan Peterson in his very first over, he had the prized wicket of Aiden Markram (60) and Kyle Verreyne (6) by the end of the day. The start was just what the doctor ordered for the Windies after the poor show with the bat as Kemar Roach sent back skipper Dean Elgar (0) off the fifth ball of the innings.But Markram and Rassie Van Der Dussen (34*) did the hard yards before the Windies debutant sent back opener Markram. At stumps, Quinton de Kock (4*) was at the crease giving Dussen company.While South Africa got off to a poor start with the bat, it was a decent start from the Windies side as skipper Kraigg Braithwaite and Shai Hope played out the first 11 overs and just when it looked they would start to add to the scoring rate as well, Nortje sent both of them back and hit Nkrumah Bonner on the helmet off the very first ball.

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