RCB stands a good chance in IPL 2020: Kohli’s coach - The Daily Guardian
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RCB stands a good chance in IPL 2020: Kohli’s coach

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Rajkumar Sharma (L) with Virat Kohli (R).

Rajkumar Sharma played an instrumental role in Virat Kohli’s transformation and is often credited for making the Indian captain the cricketer that he is today. As his coach, Sharma groomed Kohli in his formative years. In an exclusive interview with The Daily Guardian, Rajkumar Sharma looks at Royal Challengers Bangalore’s chances in IPL 2020. Excerpts:

Q. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) has once again shown confidence in Virat Kohli. The team will play under his captaincy in IPL 2020. What do you have to say about it?

A. RCB has not won this tournament even once. It is a favourite all the time. But it hasn’t won a single title yet. It has reached the final three times. This time the team has a good player. I hope that it wins this time.

Q. RCB players A.B. de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Chris Morris have also reached Dubai. The South African trio makes the team a formidable one. What is your take on it?

 A. These three players are such that they can win matches on their own and this camp is very long. It is a good thing as well. Players will get a chance to know each other and will be able to point out each other’s shortcomings enabling them to overcome them. This time the camp is very long, before the IPL, the preparation of RCB will also be good. Through this camp, you will also get the idea to make your best 11 because the fast bowling attack is also looking good. RCB’s Dale Steyn, Navdeep Saini, Umesh Yadav and Morris together make a very good fast bowling attack. It is always said that RCB makes a lot of runs but cannot defend but this time their bowling attack looks good and hopefully this time the team will do well.

Q. Aaron Finch, who is the captain of Australian team for ODI and T20, is very excited to play under the captaincy of Virat Kohli in RCB. Do you think Finch’s presence will add greater strength to RCB?

A. Of course, there is no doubt about it. He has played in a lot of matches and in winning innings for his country. There is no doubt that this team has a lot of impact players. This time, there is an opener like Aaron Finch, then AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. Kohli is a local player, he plays from Karnataka, he is a very good batsman, he is also a very good player overall, and this time he is a very influential player if everyone plays like a unit, it will be difficult for all the teams to beat them.

Q. In the IPL auction, Morris was sold for a huge amount. What was, according to you, the reason for that?

A. See there was always a shortage of an all-rounder inside RCB and that can probably be fulfilled by Chris Morris. One thing is import and that is the death over. Saini and Umesh are good bowlers. Still RCB was having a lot of problems from that point of view. So, Chris Morris is also considered an experienced bowler and a master of death overs, then it will be a big benefit for RCB. Batting lineup is also strong so that would be a big plus for RCB.

Q. Australian player Kane Richardson is also in the RCB squad. What about spin attack of the squad, with just Yuzvendra Chahal seeming to be effective? How about Pawan Negi or Washington Sundar?

A. Of course, this is more of a concern if you look at the spin department altogether. However, Chahal is an experienced bowler who has a lot of idea now. His spell of four overs would be okay. But the spin department definitely looks weak as you rightly pointed out. If Sundar is allowed to bowl early then he is fine there but later he has difficulties if he takes out his three overs in the power play. Then it is a good bet for RCB and if they get hit initially. It becomes difficult to handle them. This department of RCB appears to be weak. In this, I think if Moeen Ali plays, puts his four overs, then he can definitely help RCB.

Q. With Finch, Kohli and de Villiers around, how do you look at the batting lineup of RCB? Particularly, de Villiers’ performance has been superb in past few matches.

A. He is a very big player, I would say that in T20 cricket, there is no player bigger than him, no matter whether it’s Chris Gayle or any other player. There is no player bigger than him. He can play shots everywhere. And that makes him a big batsman. Kohli is there to play huge role as captain. Villiers and Aaron Finch are both such players, if they play ten overs, it could make a big impact in this season of IPL.

Q. Last question is for youngsters who are also in RCB. Shivam Dubey, Mohammad Siraj and Navdeep Saini are all youngsters ready give dazzling performance and impress skipper Kohli. What is your take on that?

 A. See, when the captain is the captain of your country, then you have a very good chance and Navdeep Saini has created a good place for himself. As regards Navdeep Saini, if the effort is good this year, then his place will be confirmed in the team and the opportunity is also good for Shivam Dubey and Siraj. Both have chance to impress the captain. Virat is a player who wants to have such players in his team who are gutsy and can take risk as far as performance is concerned.

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India were unfortunate not to get 3 points, says Bhaichung Bhutia

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The performance of the Blue Tigresses in their opener of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 against IR Iran has left the two Padma Shris who were present at the stadium extremely impressed.

Blue Tiger legend and former captain Bhaichung Bhutia felt “women’s football has come a long way.” “I am extremely impressed by the manner the girls played. They were unfortunate not to get three points. The Iranian goalkeeper also came up with some amazing saves which further denied us,” Bhaichung smiled. “The first match is always the most difficult one, and the manner we operated tactically pleased me like anything,” Bhaichung averred. “The Blue Tigresses were so organized, and maintained their shape all throughout. They were able to open up during the attacks, and narrow it down while defending – all of which are hallmarks of a well drilled squad,” Bhaichung commented.

“Coach Thomas Dennerby needs to be complemented. He has done an awesome job,” Bhaichung, the first Indian footballer to play 100 international matches, certified. “We came across as a well-trained team. We moved back to positions fast and there was always someone to support the other.”

“Maybe, looking back, the experience of a Bala Devi upfront may have been handy. But injuries are part and parcel of football, and I am confident the others will fill in the void.” Bembem Devi, who was also present at the stadium went gaga the manner the Blue Tigresses approached the match. “The face of women’s football in India has totally changed. Everything was so well coordinated on the field. The fitness levels were exceptional. I am unable to recall as to when our women’s team was such a fit unit,” Bembem smiled. “All of these promise a bright future for us. The passing accuracy stood out.”

“Iran have always been a very physical team. But our players were fearless -the strength of our players stood out,” Bembem said. “Coach Dennerby has changed the total approach to the sport. The manner in which he approached the training sessions in the last 5 months is a lesson for me and coaches like us,” Bembem, the first woman footballer to have received the Padma Shri Award expressed.

“Just concentrate and don’t listen and think much about the last match. Keep concentrating and work harder. These are the days a player lives for. Make the most of it. One goal will change everything and it will come soon.”

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LANNING, MCGRATH STAR AS AUSTRALIA DEFEAT ENGLAND IN 1ST T20I

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Tahlia McGrath’s all-round performance and Meg Lanning’s spirited show with the bat helped Australia defeat England by nine wickets in the first T20I of the three-match series here at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.

With this win, Australia has gained an early lead in the ongoing Women’s Ashes and the second T20I will now be played on Saturday at the same venue. McGrath first took three wickets with the ball and then she backed it up by playing a 91-knock. Chasing 170, Australia got off to a decent start as openers Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy put on 26 runs inside four overs, but this stand was cut short by Sophie Ecclestone as she dismissed Healy (7) and this brought Tahlia McGrath to the middle. Lanning and McGrath ensured that Australia does not lose momentum as they kept chipping away at runs, and the hosts needed 85 to win from the final ten overs with nine wickets in hand.

McGrath and Lanning kept on scoring runs, and as a result, England was not able to create any sort of pressure. In the end, the hosts registered a comfortable nine-wicket victory. In the end, McGrath and Lanning remained unbeaten on 91 and 64 respectively. Earlier, Danielle Wyatt played a knock of 70 runs as England posted 169/4 in the allotted twenty overs. Sent into bat, openers Danielle Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont got England off to a steady start as they put on 51 runs inside the first six overs.

The 82-run opening stand was finally broken in the 11th over as Alana King got the better of Beaumont (30). Natalie Sciver then joined Wyatt in the middle and the duo did not let the momentum drop for England. Both batters kept on scoring runs at a brisk pace and this ended up creating more pressure on Australia.

The duo put on 59 runs for the second wicket, and the stand was broken in the 17th over by Tahlia McGrath as she dismissed Sciver (32).

In the final three overs, England managed to add 25 more runs to the total, taking the score past the 165-run mark.

Brief Scores: England 169/4 (Danielle Wyatt 70, Natalie Sciver 32; Tahlia McGrath 3-26); Australia 170/1 (Tahlia McGrath 91*, Meg Lanning 64*; Sophie Ecclestone 1-29).

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AUSTRALIAN OPEN: ANDY MURRAY KNOCKED OUT BY WORLD NO.120 QUALIFIER TARO DANIEL

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World No.120 qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan stunned three time grand slam champion Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the 2nd round of men’s singles here at the John Cain Arena in a match that lasted two hours and 48 minutes.

Murray was broken in the third game of the match itself by the Japanese and in no time he took a 3-1 lead. The two-time Olympic champion clawed his way back in the sixth game to break Daniel’s serve and level the match 3-3. But in the very next game the Japanese broke Murray’s service to take a 4-3 lead. He pocketed the first set 6-4. Inn the second set too the Japanese broke Murray in the third game of the match. Murray lost the second set at the same score line of 4-6.

In the third set the Scot came up with a spirited performance by holding on to his serve and breaking his opponent to take a 2-0 lead. But in the third game the Japanese broke Murray’s serve, held his and leveled the score 2-2. In the ninth game of the match Daniel once again broke Murray’s serve. In the end the third set also was won by the Japanese with the same score as first and second set. With this defeat Murray’s wait for his first Australian Open title and a grand slam title win for more than five years continues.

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TEAM INDIA NEEDS MORE WICKET-TAKING BOWLERS

Saba Karim

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It will take some time for Rahul Dravid and the coaching staff to get Team India out of the current situation. In the first ODI, we should have restricted the South African batsmen within 250. The wicket was slow and the ball remained low. After that the Indian batsmen, who were looking to score well, collapsed and we lost. That is, we failed to bat well after bowling.

With this defeat it is too early to say anything about KL Rahul’s captaincy. As captain, he has captained ODIs for the first time. They should be given time. Well, he definitely needs to pay special attention to his batting. If runs are scored with his bat, then he will have confidence which will come in handy under his captaincy.

Team India needs wicket-taking bowlers at this time. South African batsmen made their job easy by playing sweep and reverse sweep against Indian spinners. Bhuvneshwar and Shardul also did not prove to be wicket-takers. Now the time has come that the bowlers who are present in the current team should be given a chance. It makes no sense to keep feeding old bowlers in the name of experience. Now it is the time to find Bumrah’s partner. In spin bowling, Ashwin and Chahal were probably playing together for the first time. It will definitely make a difference after the return of Ravindra Jadeja, who gives the team a real balance. Today, the strike rate of the bowlers should be considered more than the economy. Deepak Chahar can be given further opportunity, who can also bat well.

And there needs to be stability in the middle order. For how long the team will depend on the top order. The middle order players have to understand that they also need to fulfill their responsibility. There should be unity in the performance. The responsibility of finishing the match will also have to be taken. The truth is that the team had not yet recovered from the loss of two Tests that many problems emerged with the team in ODIs as well. I hope team India players will soon see the spirit of unity and victory.

The writer is a former wicket-keeper batsman and a selector of Team India.

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Rohit, Rishabh Pant and Ashwin named in ICC Men’s Test Team of 2021

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Three Indians — Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, and Ravichandran Ashwin have been named in ICC Men’s Test Team of the Year. Kane Williamson has been named as the leader of the ICC Test Team of 2021. Under Williamson, New Zealand had defeated India last year to win the World Test Championship.

Apart from three Indians, the side has two New Zealand players, three Pakistan players, one Australian, one Sri Lankan, and one player from England. Rohit Sharma came into his own as an opener in the longest format of the game. He cracked 906 runs in the calendar year at an average of 47.68 with two centuries. Both of the centuries were memorable knocks in contrasting conditions against England – one at home in Chennai and the other in overcast conditions away from home at the Oval. With key assignments coming up, Sharma will have a key role to play for India in 2022.

Rishabh Pant further established himself as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batter in all three formats, with his continuous development especially coming to the fore in the Test arena. He scored 748 runs in 12 matches at an average of 39.36 with one memorable ton against England at Ahmedabad. He also accounted for 39 dismissals in 23 innings, with his glovework continuing to improve.

The off-spinner Ashwin bamboozled many batters with his sheer wizardry. Ashwin scalped up 54 wickets in 9 matches at an average of 16.64 making a big impact in the home series against England and New Zealand. He also chipped in with 355 runs at an average of 25.35, which included a vital century against England in Chennai.

ICC Men’s Test Team of 2021: Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka), Rohit Sharma (India), Kane Williamson (c, New Zealand), Marnus Labuschagne (Australia), Joe Root (England), Fawad Alam (Pakistan), Rishabh Pant (India), Ravichandran Ashwin (India), Kyle Jamieson (New Zealand), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pakistan), and Hasan Ali (Pakistan).

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K.L. Rahul-led India look to level ODI series against South Africa

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Team India will look to bounce back in the ODI series on Friday after suffering a defeat in the first match against South Africa. Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen’s centuries were backed by a spirited bowling performance as South Africa defeated India by 31 runs in the first ODI of the three-match series here at Boland Park, Paarl on Wednesday. As India gear up for the second ODI, the visitors will look for a win to level the series. After the defeat in the first ODI, batter Shikhar Dhawan has said losing wickets in a cluster cost his side the game.

While amends in batting are needed, it was also a dismal bowling performance from the visitors and the bowling attack will have to be at top of their game in the second ODI.

“We advise the young guys to play according to the situation and one must keep the team ahead. Partnerships are important and I am sure the guys will keep learning with experience. We had a good start, the wicket was slow and it was offering a bit of turn,” Dhawan had said during a virtual press conference.

Also, Venkatesh Iyer, who made his ODI debut on Wednesday, didn’t bowl in the match and Team India will look to use the all-rounder in the second game. Dhawan explained why Iyer didn’t bowl but the visitors need to explore the sixth bowling option.

“Venkatesh Iyer was not brought on as there was turn on the wicket and the spinners were doing well. Fast bowlers were not used much in the middle, and the spinners were employed,” said Dhawan. For South Africa, it was a perfect game as each and every player contributed towards the win. However, batter Rassie van der Dussen, who was adjudged as the Player of The Match, wants South Africa to be more vigilant in the last 10 overs of the game.

“Not the ideal last 10 overs, hopefully, we can be more clinical in the future. We’ve been on a long journey with this team. We’ve put a lot of hard work in and had a lot of good chats. I think it’s coming through,” Van der Dussen said after the win on Wednesday.

India ODI squad: KL Rahul (captain), Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj, Jayant Yadav, Navdeep Saini

South Africa ODI squad: Temba Bavuma (captain), Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Zubayr Hamza, Marco Jansen, Janneman Malan, Sisanda Magala, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne.

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