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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WILL TREAT EVERY GAME AS FINAL AND GIVE MY 100%, SAYS SUNRISERS SPINNER RASHID KHAN

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Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) spinner Rashid Khan has said the side will be treating every game in the UAE-leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 as their final match. SRH is languishing at the bottom of the points table and the side will have to battle it out to make it to the top four.

Rashid is also working on his batting skills to give SRH an edge lower down the order. “From one and a half years, I have been working on my batting as last 15-25 runs are very crucial for the side. So just trying my best to do different things, haven’t practised a lot of shots in the nets but I’m just focusing on having the right mindset,” said Rashid in the video. “Definitely looking forward to the rest of the season, yeah we didn’t have the ideal start in the first half of the tournament but looking forward to finish up well and treat every game as a final and give my 100 per cent,” he added.

Wickets in the UAE are said to assist the spinner, speaking about the same, Rashid said, “We have played enough games in UAE’s conditions and just need to find out the good areas on the wicket.”

All-rounder Jason Holder and the side’s new signing Sherfane Rutherford on Friday arrived in UAE ahead of the resumption of the 14th edition of the IPL.The 14th season, which was postponed in May this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, will resume on Sunday in Dubai with a blockbuster clash between Chennai Super Kings and defending champions Mumbai Indians.After the CSK-MI clash, the action will then shift to Abu Dhabi where KKR will square off against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Sharjah will host its first game on September 24 when Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Chennai Super Kings. In all, 13 matches will be held in Dubai, 10 in Sharjah, and 8 in Abu Dhabi.

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AUSTRALIA WITHDRAW FROM JUNIOR HOCKEY WORLD CUPS

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The Kookaburras (Australian men’s hockey team) and Hockeyroos (Australian women’s hockey team) will not compete in the next edition of the FIH Pro League, with Hockey Australia (HA) also confirming non-attendance at various other FIH events over the coming months on Friday.

Australia and New Zealand will not take part in season 3 of the FIH Pro League as a result of Covid related government travel restrictions and uncertainty in both nations. According to Hockey Austalia, all participating countries and the FIH Pro League Council agreed it was untenable for international teams to travel to Australia and New Zealand, as well as for Australian and New Zealand teams to play overseas and return without having to quarantine.

“Based on risk assessment and current Australian government health advice, Hockey Australia is not considering overseas hockey-related trips at this time,” said Hockey Austalia acting CEO, Michael Johnston.

“The decision on our absence from the FIH Pro League was a collective one agreed on by all nations based primarily on other countries’ difficulty or inability to travel into Australia and New Zealand.

“In Australia it is apparent the easing of international travel restrictions is still a way off and none of the competing countries wanted to enter the next Pro League season without a level of assuredness,” Johnston added.

Hockey Australia said it remains committed to the Hockeyroos competing at the FIH women’s hockey World Cup in Spain and the Netherlands from July 1-17 next year.

The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos will also be part of the Australian Commonwealth Games team that will head to Birmingham in England between July 28 and August 8 2022.

With Covid causing ongoing challenges and risks with travel and subsequent quarantine, Hockey Australia has also withdrawn teams from the following tournaments:

-FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup India 2021 (November/December)- FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup South Africa 2021 (December)

– FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup Belgium 2022 (February)

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THERE WAS NO PRESSURE ON KOHLI, IT’S ALL ABOUT WORKLOAD: MADAN LAL ON T20 CAPTAINCY

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Former India all-rounder Madan Lal on Friday said India skipper Virat Kohli was not under pressure to step down from T20I captaincy and appreciated his decision. While speaking on Virat Kohli quitting T20I captaincy, he said: “There was no such pressure on him and I appreciate his decision. Today cricketers are playing all three formats of the game and Kohli is also captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and seeing the workload he is currently at the peak of his career which is good for himself and the team.”

When asked about Sachin Tendulkar quitting the captaincy under pressure, Madan Lal said, “Kohli has not quit the captaincy as he has built a team and taken Indian team to number one Test ranking team so it’s not about quitting. It’s all about workload and there is pressure on everyone and you have to deal with that.”

Talking about ODI and Test match captaincy, Lal said there should be no changes in both formats. Talking about Rohit Sharma leading the T20 side, he said till now Rohit has done captaincy for Mumbai Indians and has done well in other matches. “We are lucky we have another captain coming in and we are grooming them and captain also learns from grooming and Kohli has not left T20 and Rohit will benefit from the output Kohli gives him.”

Madan Lal feels at present Rohit Sharma is the right candidate for T20 captaincy and the next skipper could be KL Rahul. On Rahul being made T20 captain, Lal was against it and said Rohit is already there and there should be no overlap and it will spoil the team and Rahul can be made vice-captain.

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NEW ZEALAND JUST KILLED PAKISTAN CRICKET: SHOAIB

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Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar on Friday came down heavily on New Zealand for abandoning their tour of Pakistan and said the team just killed Pakistan cricket.

Taking to Twitter, Akhtar wrote: “NZ just killed Pakistan cricket.” He went on to add: “Following points for New Zealand to remember: 9 Pakistanis were killed in the Christchurch attack. Pakistan stood strong with New Zealand. Pakistan toured New Zealand in the worst of Covid circumstances regardless of the crude treatment by NZ authorities on that tour.

“This was just an unverified threat, it could have been discussed. Prime Minister Imran Khan personally spoke to his NZ counterpart and assured but it was still refused. Pakistan has safely hosted South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe & PSL.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Friday before Blackcaps announced that they are abandoning their tour of Pakistan. Imran Khan assured Ardern that Pakistan has one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team but New Zealand Cricket (NZC) still decided to return home after the NZ government security alert.

New Zealand was slated to play their first match on Pakistan soil since 2003. The side was to play Pakistan on Friday in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five-match T20 series.

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EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED ON THE ‘ABRUPT POSTPONEMENT’ OF THE SERIES, SAYS BABAR AZAM

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Pakistan captain Babar Azam on Friday expressed disappointment after New Zealand cricket announced they are abandoning their tour of Pakistan due to New Zealand government security alert.

“Extremely disappointed on the abrupt postponement of the series, which could have brought the smiles back for millions of Pakistan Cricket Fans. I’ve full trust in the capabilities and credibility of our security agencies. They are our pride and always will be!” Babar Azam tweeted. “Such a shame for Pakistan Cricket .. These late call offs will damage the game hugely financially .. Hopefully security issues can be resolved to allow cricket to be played again in Pakistan .. !!” wrote former England captain Michael Vaughan on his twitter handle.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Friday before Blackcaps announced that they are abandoning their tour of Pakistan.

Imran Khan assured Ardern that Pakistan has one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team but New Zealand Cricket (NZC) still decided to return home after the NZ government security alert.

New Zealand was slated to play their first match on Pakistan soil since 2003. The side was to play Pakistan on Friday in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five-match T20 series.

“Earlier today, New Zealand Cricket informed us they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series. Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan Government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the New Zealand Cricket of the same.

“The Pakistan Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team,” Pakistan Cricket Board stated in a statement.

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New Zealand abandon Pak tour after security alert

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The Blackcaps have abandoned their tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government security alert, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) informed on Friday.The side was to play Pakistan on Friday in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five-match T20 series.

New Zealand was slated to play their first match on Pakistan soil since 2003. “However, following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour,” NZC said in a statement.

NZC chief executive David White said it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving. “I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option,” he said. NZC said arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure.New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills echoed White’s sentiments.

“We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision. The players are in good hands; they’re safe — and everyone’s acting in their best interests,” he said.

NZC said it will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Friday before Blackcaps announced that they are abandoning their tour of Pakistan.

Imran Khan assured Ardern that Pakistan has one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team but New Zealand Cricket (NZC) still decided to return home after the NZ government security alert.

“Earlier today, New Zealand Cricket informed us they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series. Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan Government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the New Zealand Cricket of the same. The Pakistan Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team,” Pakistan Cricket Board stated in a statement.“The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Pakistan Government throughout their stay here,” PCB added.

PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. “However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal,” said PCB.

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