De Villiers will lead RCB if Kohli is absent: Vettori

BIG INJURY CONCERN

De Villiers will lead RCB if Kohli is absent: Vettori

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Thu, 30 Mar, 2017, 07:47 PM

Virat Kohli picked up a shoulder injury during the RanchiTest against Australia. © BCCI

AB de Villiers will lead Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening stages of IPL 2017 if regular captain Virat Kohli fails to recover from his shoulder injury in time for the start of the tournament. While no timeline has been ascertained for Kohli’s return, Daniel Vettori, head coach of the franchise, told reporters of the succession plan in the eventuality of the star captain missing out.

“He (Kohli) will come in on April 2. Between now and then, the BCCI doctors and physio will speak to us and our medical staff will get a clearer picture. Right now, we don’t have a clear picture on his availability. We will know in the next few days,” Vetorri told reporters in Bengaluru.

“”The likely scenario is that AB de Villiers will take over the duties, but we’ll answer that once we find out if Virat is out,” Vettori added.

Kohli sustained an injury to his right shoulder while diving to save a boundary on the opening day of the Ranchi Test against Australia. The injury ruled the Indian captain out of the series decider in Dharamsala. In the aftermath of India’s series victory, Kohli informed that he was still a few weeks away from regaining full fitness.

“It’s still a few weeks to go before I can be 100% on the field,” Kohli said at the end of the Dharamsala Test. “But these things happen in your career. Got to take it in my strike and move forward.”

Kohli’s absence, brief or otherwise, should it come to that, is likely to significantly hamper RCB’s quest for a maiden IPL crown. The league’s all-time highest run-getter (4110 runs at 38.41) has missed just one game for the franchise in the nine years of the tournament’s existence. In 2016, Kohli aggregated a season record 973 runs in RCB’s run to the final, where his team was pipped at the finish by Sunrisers Hyderabad.

However, Vettori was quick to back RCB’s UP batsman Sarfaraz Khan and Punjab’s Mandeep Singh to step up in Kohli’s absence. “Fortunately, we have a number of exceptional batsmen who haven’t got many playing chances, like Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh,” the former New Zealand skipper said.

“It’s a huge asset for us that someone else can fill in those gaps. Sarfaraz has been really good. At the back end of the domestic season he started to put some runs on the board. Everyone knows how talented he is. With possible injuries, he could get an opportunity early on in the tournament,” Vettori added.

RCB will get the tenth edition of IPL underway on April 5 in a rematch of last year’s final at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.

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World Cup qualification not SL’s immediate concern: Gurusinha

BANGLADESH TOUR OF SRI LANKA, 2017

World Cup qualification not SL’s immediate concern: Gurusinha

• Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 06:48 PM Rex Clementine in Colombo

Sri Lanka are 0-1 down heading into the third and final ODI against Bangladesh © AFP

Sri Lanka will not slip below Bangladesh in the ICC Rankings if they lose the current three-match series, but if their poor form continues, they will be in danger of not earning automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 in England and Wales.

West Indies, one time world beaters, are not going to be part of the Champions Trophy in June as they failed to finish among the top eight teams in ICC Rankings. Sri Lanka could face similar predicament for the World Cup as Bangladesh, Pakistan and West Indies are breathing down their neck. Sri Lanka are currently ranked sixth. Only the top seven ranked teams and hosts England gain automatic qualification for the World Cup by the cut off date of September 30.

“We have until the India series that we’re playing here in July and August. That’s going to impact it, but if we try to look too much at the end result we’re going to struggle. We need to look at every game and that’s what we’re doing. Every game we’ve got to win, and we’ve got to move away from thinking of those kinds of things and be consistent. The issue is that we’re not consistent,” Asanka Gurusinha, Sri Lanka’s cricket manager, told journalists on Friday (March 31).

Bangladesh won the first game in the current series by 90 runs in Dambulla on Saturday and Sri Lanka were unlucky as the second ODI was washed off after they posted a huge 311 on Tuesday also at Dambulla.

“I thought we played well in the second ODI to get to 311. For our bad luck it rained – it would have been a good game. The boys have been training well. The confidence is high. But they all know it’s a new game tomorrow. It’s SSC and the wicket looks a really good one. We’re expecting a great game tomorrow. The pressure is there. Whether we have won the series or not, the pressure is always there,” Gurusinha added.

Gurusinha backed struggling opener Danushka Gunathilaka, who has managed a duck and nine in the first two games of the series. “I know he hasn’t scored runs, but my philosophy is to try and support people and have a stable squad. That’s what I’m focusing on to have a stable cricket team. That’ll give confidence to the players and confidence to everyone,” Gurusinha remarked.

The home team’s sloppy fielding in the first ODI came under heavy criticism with local media labelling Sri Lanka as the worst fielding team in the world. Since the first ODI, the team has been emphasizing a lot on lifting fielding levels.

“We did a lot of fielding drills under match conditions – under pressure. Then we understood their attitude, and they started fielding well in practice. It’s what you practice that you take into the middle. I’m definitely not saying we’ve got there – it’s still improving. But my plan is to have them at 100% when we get to England for the Champions Trophy,” Gurusinha noted.

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Khalid Latif to face tribunal on May 5 in PSL corruption case

CORRUPTION IN PSL

Khalid Latif to face tribunal on May 5 in PSL corruption case

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 07:33 PM

Khalid Latif appeared before a tribunal in Lahore on March 31 © AFP

Khalid Latif, Pakistan and Islamabad United batsman, will contest some of the six charges of code-of-conduct breach levied upon him by PCB in connection with the Pakistan Super League corruption scandal. Latif appeared before a tribunal in Lahore on Friday (March 31) following which his lawyer Badar Alam told the waiting media that his party would contest the charges “because no one can be convicted on presumptions.”

Latif was one of five Pakistan players under investigation in the PSL corruption case that rocked the T20 tournament’s second season in February. He was suspended from the tournament without playing a game this season under several charges, including that of not reporting suspect approaches. His Islamabad teammate Sharjeel Khan also faces similar accusations pertaining to the opening match of the 2017 edition.

Latif and Sharjeel were provisionally suspended and expelled from the PSL in Dubai on February 10 on charges of meeting a suspicious man linked to an international betting syndicate.

The 34-year-old Latif was originally slated to appear before the tribunal last week but rescheduled the meet owing to ill health. A formal hearing will now take place on May 15 with Latif given until May 5 to respond to the charges. Justice Asghar Haider, former PCB president Tauqir Zia, and Wasim Bari will form the tribunal to hear the players’ defence. Sharjeel is likely to front the panel sometime next week and is also expected to contest some of the charges.

Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan became the first culprit on Wednesday this week when he confessed to the only charge against him, of “not reporting an offer of fixing”. He copped a fine of PKR 1 million and a one-year playing ban, which could be reduced to six months if Irfan assisted PCB in its anti-corruption drive.

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Power-hitting coach Wood to assist Australia for CT preparations

PLANNING AHEAD

Power-hitting coach Wood to assist Australia for CT preparations

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 03:21 PM

Darren Lehmann-led coaching staff will be assisted by Julian Wood, whose power-hitting expertise will come in handy © Getty

As revealed by Cricbuzz in February, former Hampshire batsman Julian Wood has been hired to help with Australia’s preparations ahead of this summer’s Champions Trophy.

Wood is now a specialist batting coach who focuses on power hitting and has previously worked with a number of counties including Middlesex, Gloucestershire and Hampshire as well as the England squad. He will attend a ten-day training camp in Australia in May and work as part of Darren Lehmann’s coaching staff.

Wood has pioneered his Power Hitting system which uses both overload and underload training. His techniques include using weighted balls, heavy and light bats and bungee ropes and progress is measured to work out a player’s power transfer ratio all with the aim of getting a player to hit the ball harder, further and more consistently.

“To strike a ball consistently hard you need to be able to develop good quick hand speed, a solid base with good balance and good clear access to the ball,” Wood, who has been the cricket professional at Bradfield College for the past twelve years, told Cricbuzz. “Proper mechanics are essential to learning to hit the ball consistently with authority.

“Power Hitting is just part of it. The modern day cricketer needs a power, touch and skill game. I not only look at the Power Hitting side of things but how to create angles to create placement which enables more power options. If the ball is delivered at 80mph, I want it to leave the bat at 100mph.

“Players will have areas where they hit the ball hard, hot zones, and areas where they’re not so good, cold zones. I work with players to make their hot zones as large as possible and turn cold zones into hot ones.”

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Zaheer happy playing sidekick to strong pace contingent

IPL 2017

Zaheer happy playing sidekick to strong pace contingent

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 09:15 PM

The Delhi Daredevils squad is replete with pacers including Morris (l), Rabada, Cummins & Shami. © BCCI

Despite not having played competitive cricket for close to a year, since featuring in the previous edition of the Indian Premier League, Delhi Daredevils skipper Zaheer Khan is confident that he can ease into his bowling role, albeit a supportive one.

Speaking to the media ahead of the 10th edition of the tournament, the 38-year-old left-arm seamer said he was up for the challenge. “It’s very difficult to not play any match and then to turn up here and play the whole season. I look at it as a challenge. I stick to my routines along with discussion I have had with my trainers and physios,” Zaheer said.

“The process remains the same. I picked up the ball around December, got into it slowly and here I am now, ready to take on another IPL season. Every time I get on the field, the excitement comes back. It’s the right dose of cricket for me at this stage of my career.”

The Delhi franchise has a host of options when it comes to the pace department, with the likes of Mohammed Shami, Pat Cummins and Kagiso Rabada part of the setup, along with allrounders like Chris Morris, Angelo Mathews and Carlos Brathwaite. Zaheer, who is pleased with his team’s quick-bowling arsenal, is happy to play second fiddle to them.

“I have supreme fast bowlers who will take the pressure off me. I’m not playing the lead role, but just the support role. I’m playing the role I enjoy the most. This is my way of giving back to the game,” he said.

A canny bowler during his India playing days, Zaheer is considered a master when it comes to bowling despite fitness limitations. The experienced pacer, who retired from international cricket in 2015, said that managing the workload was closely related to the bowling rhythm, and that the work hours don’t matter as long as the bowler in question understands those nuances.

“When I was playing, I preferred to play more and more. When you’re in rhythm, you can maintain that. You can maintain workloads at practice. Someone like Umesh, who has played all season, he isn’t going to realise when 20 overs are done. That’s the beauty of bowling fitness.

“With all the bowlers who’ve been playing Tests and some level of cricket, it will be easier in terms of bowling fitness. The more you bowl, the better you will get. I’ve always endorsed match practice is the best practice,” he said.

Delhi’s batting order though does not threaten to take the tournament by storm unlike their bowling, with key players like Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy missing from action due to varied reasons. Zaheer, however, is confident that the young Indian batsmen can deliver effectively.

“We’ve always believed in youngsters and the potential they have. If you look at last season’s squad, you’ve got someone like Karun Nair, who has a triple century at the Test level. Shreyas Iyer has made his mark, he’s part of the Test team. These youngsters are no longer youngsters, they’re seasoned campaigners now. That is the strength of DD this year.

“You’ve got an Indian batting line-up which is more experienced and know more about of their roles. The squad is settled. We’re sitting pretty despite JP and Quinton’s unavailability. If you look at all the squads, you will find players who are missing out because of international duties and injuries. We’re prepared for the uncertainties,” he added.

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Canterbury vs Wellington, 29th Match, Plunket Shield, 2016-17

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West Indies vs Pakistan, 2nd T20I, Trinidad Cricket Photos

Ahmed Shehzad was involved a nasty collision with Chadwick Walton and had to be stretchered off the field. He returned to action later in the second innings.
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R Ashwin set to miss IPL 2017

INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE, 2017

R Ashwin set to miss IPL 2017

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 07:03 PM

R Ashwin is expected to be fit for the Champions Trophy in June © BCCI

Ravichandran Ashwin, the Rising Pune Supergiant offspinner, is set to miss the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League after being ruled out for six to eight weeks with a sports hernia injury, it was reported on Friday(March 31).

Ashwin, who had the most number of overs in a Test season, having had played non-stop cricket since July, is set to start with rehabilitation soon and regain full fitness in time for India’s title defence at the Champions Trophy in June.

Ashwin’s exclusion doesn’t come as a complete surprise, given that he had first picked up the injury right after the England Tests in December. As a result, he also withdrew from the Tamil Nadu squad for the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Karnataka.

Across Test series’ against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia at home, the offspinner bowled 738.2 overs in 13 Tests and returned a record 82 wickets. Bowling in tandem with Ravindra Jadeja, they finished as the most successful bowling pair in a season with 153 scalps, averaging 24.14.

Ashwin’s absence will come as a mighty blow for RPS, whose tryst with injuries continue, having already lost Mitchell Marsh due to a shoulder injury. In the 2016 season, the offspinner picked up 10 wickets in 14 games for the Pune-based franchise.

Meanwhile, Murali Vijay is likely to join his Tamil Nadu and India teammate on the sidelines with shoulder and wrist concerns.

India physio Patrick Farhaart is expected to send across a report to the concerned franchises.

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Bengaluru, Mumbai to host IPL play-offs, final in Hyderabad

IPL 2017

Bengaluru, Mumbai to host IPL play-offs, final in Hyderabad

• Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 07:54 AM Indranil Basu in New Delhi

BCCI will also felicitate the ‘Fab Five’ of Indian cricket at the opening ceremony in Hyderabad on April 5. © BCCI

The last few days have seen a literal tug-of-war between the BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (CoA) and office-bearers over who should have the final say in the affairs of the board. In such a scenario, Thursday’s IPL Governing Council’s meeting came as a surprise as it went ahead in a cordial atmosphere, without any rancour or dissent.

Those who had to fall in line with Vinod Rai, chairman of CoA, did so without making much of a fuss. The idea is to make IPL-10 a grand success and ensure the game doesn’t suffer at any cost. From signing the venue agreement to logistics and payment issues, both the CoA and office-bearers – including IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla and former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly – were on the same page. The staging associations have already been promised financial assistance to meet the expenses for hosting the games.

Shukla chaired the meeting and Rai later told TOI: “I have no issue with anyone chairing the meeting. The Governing Council exists as of now and Shukla is the chairman of the committee. He was also a part of the IPL auction in Bangalore. I am here with a purpose to implement the Lodha reforms and I don’t have any difference of opinion with anyone running the sport. But if anyone comes in between our line of work, I will certainly get into the picture. That is the mandate given to us by the Supreme Court.”

Shukla also agreed that the meeting went very well. “Our job is to ensure that IPL-10 gets maximum success. We have the support of Rai, who is the head of the CoA,” he said.

It was revealed after the meeting that Mumbai would host the First Qualifier while the Eliminators will take place in Bangalore. For being the defending champions, Hyderabad will be the venue for the final. “Mumbai lost out on last year’s IPL Play-off because of the drought issue. That is why Mumbai has been shortlisted for one of the qualifiers,” Shukla said.

The board also decided to honour Indian cricket’s ‘Fab Five’ at the opening ceremony . “Five legends of Indian cricket – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag – will be felicitated during the opening ceremony in Hyderabad on April 5,” Shukla added.

Surprisingly, India’s coach Anil Kumble, whose contribution to Indian cricket is equally big, isn’t part of the list.

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IPL: Which batsman has the wood on whom

IPL IN NUMBERS

IPL: Which batsman has the wood on whom

Deepu Narayanan • Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 09:52 PM

David Warner has seven fifties in as many matches against RCB. © BCCI

In the 2014 IPL auction, Chennai Super Kings’ aggressive bid for opener Dwayne Smith raised a few eyebrows. They were not the team known to tinker their core group and going for Smith despite having Brendon McCullum and Faf du Plessis in their ranks was surprising, to say the least. Coach Stephen Fleming later confessed that the reason for it was Smith’s stellar record against the franchise – every time Smith batted against CSK he played some extraordinary innings which hit them very hard.

Here, in a two-part series, we take a look at a few such instances of a batsman taking a liking to a particular opposition.

David Warner for SRH vs RCB – Seven fifties in as many matches

David Warner’s exploits against Royal Challengers Bangalore is of two halves. In his first six matches against them, all for Delhi Daredevils, he scored just 107 runs at 17.83. But ever since donning the SunRisers Hyderabad jersey, he has been a different monster altogether against the familiar foes. His scores in the last seven innings read 61, 59, 57, 52 not out, 58, 92 and 69. No other player has scored more than four consecutive fifties against any team in the history of IPL. He has also hit an unbeaten 122 against them for New South Wales in the now defunct Champions League.

Warner vs RCB:

Inngs Runs Avg SR 50+ scores Highest MoM 13 555 46.25 162.28 7 92 3

Chris Gayle vs KXIP – 797 runs in 15 matches

No one in the history of IPL has scored more runs against a particular opposition than Chris Gayle against the Kings XI. Gayle’s love affair with KXIP started from his second appearance, for Kolkata Knight Riders then, scoring a 26-ball unbeaten 44 in a rain-affected encounter. He scored his first hundred against them, for Royal Challengers, in May 2011 and scored another one exactly the same day four years later. His eight scores of fifty or more against them is also a tournament record.

Gayle vs KXIP:

Inngs Runs Avg SR 50+ scores Highest MoM 15 797 56.92 175.55 8 117 4

Chris Gayle vs KKR – Four Man of the Match awards in 11 games

Gayle arrived on the scene in Royal Challengers’ gold and yellow for the first time against his former employers Kolkata Knight Riders, mid-season in 2011. He smashed an unbeaten 55-ball 102 and unleashed a different monster altogether. Gayle averaged 30 with a strike rate of 140 till then and since then, those numbers have risen to 43 and 153 respectively. He tormented Knight Riders, especially in their den at the Eden Gardens, as the following scores suggest – 102 (55), 86 (58), 96 (56) and 49 (31).

Gayle vs KKR:

Inngs Runs Avg SR 50+ scores Highest MoM 11 525 58.33 158.61 4 102* 4

Suresh Raina vs MI – Four fifties in knockout games

No other team has rubbed shoulders as often as Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians in the short history of IPL and it was Suresh Raina who helped the former to put their noses ahead in the crunch contests. He scored an unbeaten 35-ball 57 in the final of 2010 season to infuse momentum into the innings and was the only fifty in the summit clash, earning him Man of the Match award. Three years later he scored an unbeaten 82 off just 42 balls in the Qualifiers which booked his team a berth in the final. The following year he scored a 33-ball 54, unbeaten again, in the Eliminator thereby ending Mumbai’s campaign. Last year he scored a 36-ball 58 for Gujarat Lions, once again to terminate Mumbai’s journey for the season.

Raina vs MI:

Inngs Runs Avg SR 50+ scores Highest MoM 24 679 35.73 148.90 6 83* 4

Rohit Sharma vs KKR – The love for Eden

Rohit Sharma has always been a thorn in the flesh for the Knight Riders. Much before his love affair with the Eden Gardens commenced, he smashed 26 off a Mashrafe Mortaza over at the Wanderers to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat much to the dismay of the Knight Riders who were in the middle of their worst run. His only IPL hundred came at the Eden on a difficult track against an attack comprising of Sunil Narine, Brett Lee and Shakib Al Hasan among others. His last five innings against them read – 51, 98 not out, 30, 84 not out and 68.

Rohit vs KKR:

Inngs Runs Avg SR 50+ scores Highest MoM 18 655 54.58 140.55 5 109* 4

Virat Kohli vs SRH – Seven 40+ scores in nine innings

This is a nascent rivalry, with SunRisers having started playing IPL only since 2013. Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten 47-ball 93 where the rest of the team only managed 62 runs off 59 balls as they made light work of a daunting chase in Bengaluru in 2013. Later in 2015, he smashed a 19-ball 44 to chase down 81 runs in six overs in a rain-curtailed game to ensure SunRisers’ exit from the competition. He kicked off his brilliant run in 2016 with 75 against the familiar foes and ended with another half-century in the final.

Kohli vs SRH:

Inngs Runs Avg SR 50+ scores Highest MoM 9 434 62.00 146.62 4 93* 2

Ajinkya Rahane vs DD – An impressive average of 77.75

Ajinkya Rahane’s run against Delhi Daredevils has been more steady than spectacular. He was only 20 years old when he scored 56 in a losing cause in the 2009 edition in South Africa. He played another superb knock – an unbeaten 84 off 63 – in 2012 against Daredevils as his side lost by one run. This remains the highest unbeaten score by an opener in an IPL run-chase in a losing cause. He has reached double figures in all his matches against them and his team has remained unbeaten in the last eight encounters against Daredevils. He has scored 622 runs against them with six fifties and highest of an unbeaten 91.

Rahane vs DD:

Inngs Runs Avg SR 50+ scores Highest MoM 13 622 77.75 132.05 6 91* 4

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