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TEAM DYNAMICS: SHOULD TEAMMATES BE FRIENDS?

Arjun Hemmady

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Virat Kohli (left) and his deputy, Rohit Sharma.

After India’s exit in the semifinals of last year’s World Cup, reports emerged about an alleged rift between two of Team India’s star performers — Vice-Captain Rohit Sharma and Captain Virat Kohli. It is said that Rohit had unfollowed Virat and his wife Anushka Sharma on social media platforms, leading to further speculation. But this brings up a pertinent question — should teammates necessarily be friends? Is it essential for them to hang out and spend time with each other off the field? Let’s examine.

There have been reports of rifts between players and between captain and coach right from the alleged tussle between Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev in the 1980s to the well-documented split between Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell in 2005 and more recently Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble in 2017. In this day and age of social media, players are always posting content showcasing their off-field camaraderie with their teammates. However, let’s extrapolate this to the corporate world. Do we post photographs and videos with our colleagues on a regular basis? Some may say yes, while the some may say no. Isn’t it normal for us to have disagreements with our co-workers on a variety of professional work-related issues? Do we spend time with them outside working hours? The reason for this is that they are our colleagues. We share a professional relationship with them.

Continuing in a similar vein, both Rohit and Virat are first and foremost colleagues. They started out in the Indian team around the same time. Each has their own personal and professional goals and idea as to how the Indian team must progress and succeed going forward. This, I believe, is the crux of the relationship between players. They must share a common goal for the well-being and betterment of the team they are playing for. It is not necessary for them to see eye to eye on every matter.

 Rohit has captained the Mumbai Indians to four IPL titles and has led the Indian team with distinction in the absence of Virat. His tactical acumen, leadership and man-management skills have been applauded by one and all. Virat, on the other hand, has not yet led India to victory in an ICC tournament and neither has RCB won an IPL under his leadership. Yet, despite the above, Virat is the undisputed leader of the Indian team. In similar circumstances, a less mature person would have tried to portray himself as the leader of the team.

However, Rohit is not like that. An astute and sensible individual, Rohit has thrown his weight behind Virat’s leadership and is playing a commendable supporting role. To conclude, the whole issue of a rift between Rohit and Virat seems like much ado about nothing.

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World Tour Finals: Sindhu suffers second consecutive loss, gets beaten by Intanon

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Bangkok [Thailand], January 28 (ANI): India shuttler PV Sindhu on Thursday suffered an 18-21, 13-21 defeat at the hands of Ratchanok Intanon in her second group-stage match in the ongoing World Tour Finals.
In the first game, both gave each other tough competition, with the match coming to a point where the scores were 18-18. However, the Thai player rose to the challenge and clinched the game 21-18.
The second game also got off to a similar start but Intanon shifted gears after a while and completely dominated Sindhu to win the game 21-13. The match between the two lasted for 43 minutes.
In her first group-stage match, Sindhu was beaten by Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-Ying 19-21, 21-12, 21-17.
Earlier in the day, Kidambi Srikanth put up a fighting show but couldn’t turn the match in his favour as he was defeated by Taiwan’s Wang Tzu-Wei in his second group-stage match in the ongoing BWF World Tour Finals on Thursday.
Wang defeated Srikanth 21-19, 9-21, 19-21 in a match that lasted for 78 minutes. Srikanth began the match very well with a lead of 4-2 but Wang made a comeback to square off the points at 8-8, however, the Indian shuttler continued his fine form and pocketed the first game (21-19).
In the second game, Wang dominated the proceeding and bagged the set (9-21) comfortably. Srikanth made a comeback within minutes to square the points at 9-9 but Wang took the lead (10-11) at the mid-game break in the third set. After the break, Srikanth came close but was unable to win the third set. On Wednesday, Srikanth was defeated by Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in his first group-stage match of the tournament. (ANI)

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World Tour Finals: Srikanth loses second game, road to semis gets tougher

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Bangkok [Thailand], January 28 (ANI): India shuttler Kidambi Srikanth put up a fighting show but couldn’t turn the match in his favour as he was defeated by Taiwan’s Wang Tzu-Wei in his second group-stage match in the ongoing BWF World Tour Finals on Thursday.
Wang defeated Srikanth 21-19, 9-21, 19-21 in a match that lasted for 78 minutes. Srikanth began the match very well with a lead of 4-2 but Wang made a comeback to square off the points at 8-8, however, the Indian shuttler continued his fine form and pocketed the first game (21-19).
In the second game, Wang dominated the proceeding and bagged the set (9-21) quite comfortably. The Taiwanese badminton player maintained dominance in the game and took a three-point lead in the decider.
Srikanth made a comeback within minutes to square the points at 9-9 but Wang took the lead (10-11) at the mid-game break in the third set. After the break, Srikanth came close but was unable to win the third set. Wang’s backhand shot that came out of nowhere was the highlight of the match.
On Wednesday, Srikanth was defeated by Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in his first group-stage match of the tournament.
Antonsen defeated Srikanth 15-21, 21-16, 21-18 in his first match in the World Tour Finals. The entire match lasted for one hour and 17 minutes. Srikanth came out all guns blazing in the first game and he did not give his opponent any chance, wrapping up the game 21-15 inside 22 minutes.
In the second game, Antonsen managed to change his fortunes around. With the winning momentum on his side, Antonsen capitalised in the third game and he walked away with a victory in the match. (ANI)

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Maguire admits Man Utd weren’t ‘good enough’ after Sheffield United defeat

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Manchester [UK], January 28 (ANI): Manchester United’s Harry Maguire expressed disappointment after losing to Sheffield United in the Premier League and said his side was “not good enough” in the match.
The bottom-placed team of this season’s Premier League pulled off a stunner on Thursday as they defeated Manchester United 2-1. Manchester United, with this defeat, failed to reclaim their top spot as they remain in the second position, behind Manchester City.
“Not good enough. We didn’t perform to a level we’ve been playing at. We didn’t play at an intensity that we’ve played at. We haven’t created enough to win the game,” the club’s official website quoted Maguire as saying.
During the match, Kean Bryan handed Sheffield United a lead in the 23rd minute as he headed in his first Premier League goal from John Fleck’s corner. Sheffield United maintained their lead through to the first half.
Maguire equalised for Manchester United in the 64th minute, heading in Alex Telles’s corner. However, Sheffield United managed to restore their lead 10 minutes later when Oliver Burke netted a goal.
Maguire admitted that a little spark and inspiration was missing which cost them the game.
“Well, we have great belief. At half-time, we knew. We knew we didn’t perform well in the first half, but we had belief that if we scored the next goal, we could go on to win the game. We scored the next goal. It was an important goal, and we never found anything extra to push — that little spark or inspiration. Something was missing,” he said.
“Like I said, we have to improve, we know that it’s not good enough for this club. We’ve got to win games, especially at Old Trafford, especially to teams who are where they are in the league. But for sure, we’ve got to improve,” Maguire added. (ANI)

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Spinner Abdur Razzak to join BCB national selection panel

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Dhaka [Bangladesh], January 28 (ANI): The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has named spinner Abdur Razzak as the third senior selector in the national panel. The left-arm spinner will work along with former skippers Minhajul Abedin, the panel chief, and Habibul Bashar.
Razzak who featured for Bangladesh in 200 international games between 2004 and 2018, will have to call off his cricketing career to take up the job.
“The Board approved the inclusion of former Bangladesh left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak in the National Selection Panel,” BCB said in an official statement.
The Bangladesh spinner, who has taken 279 wickets in all formats, feels his experience of captaining in the domestic arena will come in handy during his role. He was the first Bangladesh bowler to pick up 200 ODI wickets.
“My playing experience will certainly be valuable in this regard. I used to play cricket, and now I have to help build the national team. I have been captaining in domestic cricket for a long time and I have often helped form teams. It has usually gone well,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Razzak as saying.
“But the stakes are higher here, and the expectations are more. But still, I believe I can manage it. I am pretty sure I have to (retire). I haven’t mentioned it yet since I am awaiting the appointment letter but certainly when I join this new job, I have to quit (playing),” he added.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh kicked off their qualification campaign for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in style, sweeping their Cricket World Cup Super League series against the West Indies.
The 3-0 result at home has lifted Bangladesh to the second position in the points table as they are on 30 points along with England but ahead on net run-rate.
Australia, who are one of only two sides to play two series so far with the other being England, lead with 40 points in the Super League, which was introduced last year to add context to ODI cricket. (ANI)

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Australia selector Hohns admits rotating pace bowlers could be the way forward

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Melbourne [Australia], January 28 (ANI): National selector Trevor Hohns has indicated that Australia might follow the rotation policy for their pace battery during the South Africa tour while admitting it should have been done against India in the recently concluded Test series.
Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Starc along with spinner Nathan Lyon played all four Tests against India. While Cummins and Hazlewood starred with the ball, Starc and Lyon had to toil hard for wickets.
Starc picked eight wickets in the first two Tests against India but wasn’t able to trouble the visitors’ batsmen in the last two games which eventually saw Australia losing at The Gabba to hand the visitors the series 2-1.
Hohns feels that the Australia team management would have to be more mindful in the future and said all the bowlers who played against India have recovered and are fit for the South Africa tour.
“In hindsight, [we] possibly could have been done. Prior to finalising any team we check with medical people and even check with our players sometimes just to find out how they are doing,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Hohns as saying when asked about rotation.
“Sure, the games were pretty tight and close together, maybe we have to be a little more mindful of that going forward. However, in this instance all the bowlers had recovered sufficiently for the medicos to give them the thumbs up,” he added.
Cummins, Hazlewood, and Starc were named in Australia’s squad for South Africa series on Wednesday. Hohns said the chosen pace attack has done the job for Australia on numerous occasions so the selectors just had to make sure the bowlers recovered sufficiently after the loss against India.
“We considered those three fast bowlers, who had performed very well over a long period of time, were the best ones for the job. Once we’d checked to make sure they’d recovered sufficiently we thought it was the best attack,” said Hohns.
Meanwhile, Matthew Wade was left out of Australia’s Test squad for the South Africa tour while Tim Paine received strong support to continue as captain.
Wade will instead tour New Zealand for the T20I series as Australia will lock horns both with the Kiwis and South Africa in February and March. The Australian T20I squad will be captained by Aaron Finch and coached by Andrew McDonald.
Cricket Australia (CA) has confirmed that the Australian men’s T20I squad tour to New Zealand will not change irrespective of the outcome of discussions between Cricket South Africa and CA regarding the Australian men’s Test tour of South Africa. (ANI)

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Umpire Oxenford to retire from international cricket

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Dubai [UAE], January 28 (ANI): The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday announced that umpire Bruce Oxenford has decided to retire from international cricket after a fine career that saw him officiate around the world across all three formats of the game for over 15 years.
Oxenford, who officially stands down in April, made his international debut at the Gabba in a T20I between Australia and South Africa in January 2006. A regular member of the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires since 2012, Oxenford has officiated in 62 Test matches, the last of which was the final match of the Australia-India series in Brisbane.
He officiated at the last three ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups and the last three ICC Men’s T20 World Cups. He was also part of the officiating team at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cups in 2012 and 2014.
Before becoming an umpire, Oxenford represented Queensland in eight first-class matches as a leg-spin bowler and lower-order batsman. The 60-year-old from Queensland will continue to oversee domestic fixtures despite his retirement from the international game.
Oxenford said it is hard for him to believe that he officiated in close to 200 international matches.
“I look back with pride at my international career as an umpire. It is still hard to believe that I officiated in close to 200 international matches. Such a long career was not really something that I had hoped for before commencing on this journey. I would like to thank the International Cricket Council, Cricket Australia and all my colleagues in the ICC Elite and International panels for their support and encouragement over the years,” Oxenford said in a statement.
“I had a wonderful time as a match official and will miss the camaraderie that comes with being a part of such a professional group. I shall particularly miss seeing and interacting with the magnificent people who are part of the support structure of our game around the world… Whilst I will no longer stand in international matches, I look forward to continuing to serve the game that I love – officiating within Australia,” he added.
Meanwhile, Adrian Griffith, ICC Senior Manager – Umpires and Referees, said: “Bruce is an excellent umpire, and it has been a pleasure working with him over the years. He is a great team man and well respected by all his colleagues. I congratulate Bruce on behalf of everyone at the ICC for a fine international career and wish him all the success in his future pursuits. It is pleasing to hear he will continue to umpire domestically and share his tremendous experience with the next generation of Elite umpires.” (ANI)

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