Russell’s absence doesn’t put us on the back foot: Yusuf

IPL 2017

Russell’s absence doesn’t put us on the back foot: Yusuf

Kathakali Banerjee • Last updated on Mon, 03 Apr, 2017, 07:30 AM

Competition for spots is healthy, feels Yusuf Pathan. © Getty

Countdown to the new season has begun and Kolkata Knight Riders are looking to make it count in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League which gets under way on Wednesday (April 5). The Knight Riders, who launch their campaign against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot on April 7, are still looking to get their team combination right.

Senior pro Yusuf Pathan feels that bowling will be KKR’s strength this season. “This year we have a lot of variety,” said the swashbuckling all-rounder, ahead of their practice session at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. The KKR management picked up England’s Chris Woakes, New Zealand’s Trent Boult, Australian Nathan Coulter-Nile and Caribbean speedster Rovman Powell at the auction in order to bolster their pace attack that also includes Team India pacer Umesh Yadav.

Gautam Gambhir’s side is also well stacked in the spin department with the likes of off-spinner Sunil Narine, left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav in the ranks.

Talking about young Kuldeep, who made a fine Test debut against Australia in Dharamshala last month, Pathan said: “He has a bright future and should do very well for us.”

Apart from genuine all-rounders like Shakib, Yusuf and Woakes, KKR also have a number of bowlers like Chawla, Kuldeep, and Rishi Dhawan who are handy customers with the bat. Yusuf reckons this will add a lot of depth to KKR’s batting. “When you have such a wide variety of players competing for spots in the playing XI, it is a healthy sign,” Pathan added. KKR will, however, miss the all-round talent of Andre Russell, who copped a ban for violating Wada’s anti-doping code. “He had a lot of positive impact on the team in the last couple of seasons and his lively presence in the dressing room will be missed,” Pathan said.

“I don’t agree that Russell’s absence puts us on the back foot. In a long tournament like IPL, teams are bound to miss key players at times for a variety of reasons. We have to look ahead and work with the ones who are available,” he added.

Woakes, picked as Russell’s replacement, arrived in the city on Saturday night and joined the team practice on Sunday. But Powell, Shakib, Boult and Narine are expected to join the squad in Rajkot, hours before KKR’s first match.

Asked whether it will hurt the team’s performance Pathan said, “We are playing our first couple of matches away from home. It takes the pressure off us. We are well aware of the conditions in Rajkot and Mumbai. As professional cricketers we are expected to adapt quickly,” he added.

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93742/russells-absence-doesnt-put-us-on-the-back-foot-yusuf

Tests got their mojo back: In the absence of India-Pakistan cricket, contests with Australia have acquired dramatic importance

It’s been a week since India beat Australia in the final Test at Dharamshala but the excitement still lingers. I’ve been jogging my memory ceaselessly and can’t think of many series as competitive and pulsating, climaxing in the most enthralling Indian season ever.

With 10 wins from 13 Tests (and only one defeat) against four different opponents, this has easily been India’s best performance at home. Impressive as this seems, it is the sheer quality of cricket played by Virat Kohli and Co that was riveting.

True, playing on home pitches is an advantage. But this can easily be squandered by complacency, cockiness or – especially in a long season – dwindling consistency. There is also the flip side to playing at home, often disregarded, which is the pressure of expectation. Former Australia captain Steve Waugh said somewhere recently that he always preferred overseas tours as the distractions were far lesser. Where the Indian team is concerned, pressure from fans is manifold, given the manic following for cricket.

In any case, home support and friendly pitches are no guarantee to success: In the last full home season in 2012-13, for instance, England won 2-1 after losing the first Test. Lose focus, lose series.

There were also other challenges confronting the Indian team. For instance, the entire season was played against the backdrop of the turmoil in BCCI vis-à-vis the Justice Lodha panel recommendations. To believe that players are inured from fractious off-field developments is a one-dimensional view of how sport is played. They do feel the tugs and pulls of controversies. The effort to blank such things from the mind can be daunting.

Through all this, India played with admirable focus. That talent in Indian cricket is deep and widespread – despite misgivings about how the sport is administered in the country – was evident from how even newbies and rookies rose to the occasion.

Collectively, this effort played out a superb script as the season wore on. The team enhanced its lead at the top of the ICC rankings in great style, and in the process gave Test cricket in India the kiss of life.

The challenge of winning overseas looms now, as captain Virat Kohli admitted. India’s record in away Tests over the last decade-odd is dismal but this season gave hope that things might be changing.

Players like KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav appear to have come of age in the five-day format. Yadav’s success in particular is most encouraging as India have lacked a wicket-taking fast bowler since Zaheer Khan’s heydays. Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and a fully fit Mohammed Shami make a daunting pace quartet. It is reasonable to believe too that Ashwin and Jadeja have gained from experience and will be more effective overseas now.

Essentially, though, it is about the changed mindset of players. There is a chutzpah, positivity and optimism that separate this team from any in the past. This seems derived from the personality of the captain. Kohli’s energy, passion and desire to win is infectious. He has been able to instil intensity of performance, sustained aggression and an unrelenting quest for success which works even in his absence as evidenced.

This captured the imagination of cricket fans even as opponents were vanquished. Crowds for all 13 Tests, if not quite like in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, were huge by contemporary standards. Dwindling spectatorship for Tests in recent years in India was contrasted by the phenomenal success of the Indian Premier League in the last decade. This season showed that the five-day format’s appeal is still intact.

The charm of the five-day format remains unparalleled when teams play skilfully, hard and uncompromisingly as witnessed in the series against Australia, without doubt the high point of the season.

The obvious comparison is with the 2001 series, also against Australia. India had come from behind then too to win the rubber, immortalised by the magical turnaround effected by VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh in the second Test in Kolkata. The calibre of the Australian side in 2001 was much higher of course. The Aussies were world champions then and boasted several stellar players. Steve Smith, on the other hand, led a young team with a wobbly track record and must be lauded for running India so close.

In the absence of India-Pakistan cricket ties, India’s contests with Australia have acquired an importance that is invaluable for the game, and a competitive edge that provokes bitter, high-strung contests. Inevitably, this will throw up volatile situations every now and then. But if these are managed competently by authority and players themselves, the problem can easily be defused without compromising on the intensity of cricket played.

I believe ICC match referee Chris Broad erred in not even reprimanding Smith for his self-confessed ‘brain fade’ moment in the second Test. This stoked acrimony between the two teams, fuelled further by some ill-conceived remarks from Cricket Australia and BCCI.

Happily, it all ended well. Smith was contrite in his post-series statements, accepting that he had let emotions ‘slip’ a bit in the series. Kohli, after impetuously ‘unfriending’ the Aussies, clarified that this was not directed against them all, only ‘one or two’.

The ethos of competitive sport is one-upmanship, no quarter given or asked. But this should not extend to bitter aftertaste. Grace in defeat and magnanimity in victory may be old world virtues but enhance sport, as they do life.
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KKR’s batting needs to be top class: Gambhir

IPL 2017

KKR’s batting needs to be top class: Gambhir

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Sun, 02 Apr, 2017, 09:08 PM

Gautam Gambhir came to the defense of Sunil Narine, who seems to have lost a bit of zing since remodelling his bowling action © BCCI

With the changing nature of the Eden Gardens surface, Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir reckons his team’s batting has to be top class in the upcoming season of the IPL.

“From a track that used to favour spinners, it now has good deal of pace and bounce in it. With that as a background, batting has to be top-class,” Gambhir told PTI on Sunday (April 2). “The rival team fast bowlers will come hard at us and we have to be ready for that.”

The core of the batting includes him, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan. KKR even added domestic performer Ishank Jaggi to the side, but the likes of Uthappa and Suryakumar haven’t been in the best of touch. However, the biggest problem that KKR face this season is the absence of their lynchpin – Andre Russell, who has been ruled out of the season after being handed a one-year ban for violating anti-doping whereabouts regulations.

To fill the void, KKR paid a hefty sum to procure the services of Chris Woakes as a like-for-like replacement, but the English all-rounder is yet to prove his destructive prowess in Indian conditions. Gambhir believes while Russell’s absence is a big blow to the side’s balance, it is also an ideal opportunity for someone else to stand up and be counted.

“There are two ways to look at such situations in life,” Gambhir said. “Either we can see Russell’s absence as a challenge or look at it as an opportunity in bold letters. I as an individual, and KKR as a group, are looking it as an opportunity. Maybe a combination of Manish Pandey’s batting and Ankit Rajpoot’s bowling can get us what Russell did. Not only Woakes but the entire team can try to fill-in for Russell and for that you don’t necessarily need an all-rounder. May be some other pair can do this.”

KKR have depended heavily on their spin bowling in the recent seasons, but have opted to assemble one of their strongest fast-bowling attacks for the upcoming season.

“We had left-arm pacemen in Jaydev Unadkat and Pradeep Sangwan in the past and understand the value of this skill that Boult brings in. Boult, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Umesh Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot and Woakes. We have all bases covered when it comes to fast bowling.”

The left-handed opener also said that Sunil Narine, who has lost a bit of his magic touch after remodelling his bowling action, could be a threat again.

“I think we start judging people a little too soon. You can’t expect a golfer, who has changed his swing to be the same force from day one on the greens. I have changed my stance (to open chested) and it’s been close to two years now and I am still settling with it. Give Sunil some time and some space and he will show you his wares again,” Gambhir said.

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93733/kkrs-batting-needs-to-be-top-class-gambhir

Everyone needs to fill in for Andre Russell’s absence: Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir leads KKR in IPL. (Source: Express Photo) Gautam Gambhir leads KKR in IPL. (Source: Express Photo)

Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders will be missing their key all-rounder Andre Russell but skipper Gautam Gambhir wants his team to treat the Jamaican’s absence as an “opportunity in bold letters” during the upcoming Indian Premier League.

The flamboyant Russell has been handed a one-year ban for violating anti-doping whereabouts regulations and KKR now have England’s Chris Woakes as a like-for-like replacement picked from the auctions.

“There are two ways to look at such situations in life. Either we can see Russell’s absence as a challenge or look at it as an opportunity in bold letters. I as an individual, and KKR as a group, are looking it as an opportunity,” Gambhir told PTI during an interview.

Asked if Woakes could fill in for Russell as a batsman, Gambhir gave an interesting answer.

“Maybe a combination of Manish Pandey’s batting and Ankit Rajput’s bowling can get us what Russell did. Not only Woakes but the entire team can try to fill-in for Russell and for that you don’t necessarily need an all-rounder. May be some other pair can do this,” said Gambhir.

The seasoned opener doesn’t believe that it helps brooding when one is a leader.

“I better be looking at glass half full,” he said.

Gambhir reckons that the core Indian group of batsmen like Manish Pandey, Surya Kumar Yadav and Robin Uthappa will have to take more responsibility on a relaid Eden track where pacers will have more advantage.

“From a track that used to favour spinners, it now has good deal of pace and bounce in it. With that as a background, batting has to be top-class. The rival team fast bowlers will come hard at us and we have to be ready for that.”

Talking about pace on Eden Gardens track, New Zealander Trent Boult’s presence would certainly add variety to KKR’s bowling season.

“We had left-arm pacemen in Jaydev Unadkat and Pradeep Sangwan in the past and understand the value of this skill that Boult brings in. Boult, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Umesh Yadav, Ankit Rajput and Woakes. We have all bases covered when it comes to fast bowling.”

Sunil Narine used to be a mystery spinner and strike bowler for KKR before he had to remodel his bowling action due to allegations of chucking.

But the former India ODI captain insists that Narine is still a force to reckon with despite adjusting to his new action.

“I think we start judging people a little too soon. You can’t expect a golfer, who has changed his swing to be the same force from day one on the greens. I have changed my stance (to open chested) and it’s been close to two years now and I am still settling with it. Give Sunil some time and some space and he will show you his wares again.”

On the personal front, the milestone of becoming the first franchise captain to win a hat-trick of IPL titles beckons Gambhir.

“The pressure is normal. We have to win and if we do we will create history by being the first franchisee to win IPL three times. In that sense you can say there is pressure,” he said.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/ipl-2017-10/everyone-needs-to-fill-in-for-andre-russells-absence-gautam-gambhir-4596610/

The Kapil Sharma Show: Sunil Grover’s absence has affected the rating so badly, it is not even in top 10 anymore

The Kapil Sharma show has witnessed a steep fall in week 12 (March 18-24), according to a data released by BARC. The Kapil Sharma show has witnessed a steep fall in week 12 (March 18-24), according to a data released by BARC.

The mid-air fight between Kapil Sharma and Sunil Grover has snowballed into a full-fledged controversy. The audience and fans earlier speculated that all the brouhaha might just be a public gimmick to breathe new life into the show. Even as controversies kept piling around the show, we saw a confident Kapil endeavouring to hold the show together. The comedian-actor not only invited ace comedians including Raju Srivastav and Sunil Pal but also took a dig at that infamous brawl on the flight, during the last episode. But, in this whole saga of Kapil Sharma vs Sunil Grover, Kapil seems to be paying the price of the whole controversy.

The show has witnessed a steep fall in week 12 (March 18-24), according to a data released by BARC. In week 12, the show has witnessed around 5.3 million impressions in comparison to 6 million impressions during the last week. There’s more. The show is out of the top 10 Indian TV shows ranking. It now stands at number 11. The top five shows include – Naagin Season 2, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Kumkum Bhagya, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah and Shani. In the last week, The Kapil Sharma Show had secured a fourth place behind only Naagin Season 2, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Kumkum Bhagya and Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah. During the last three months of 2017, the show has been able to maintain a healthy 6.4 million impressions.

The show also saw a huge plummet in YouTube viewings. The last episode of March titled – Stand Up Comedians In Kapil’s Show, saw around 3,984,158 YouTube views, which is quite low in comparison to its previous episodes. What’s more stark is the number of dislikes on the episode. It recorded a staggering 117,705 dislikes in comparison to only 28,029 likes on the same episode. These figures suggest a huge shift in the mood of the audience.

Also Read: Baahubali 2: Cricketer Ashwin Ravichandran’s take on the film’s pre-booking has left us ‘stumped’

In the absence of popular actors Sunil Grover, Ali Asgar and Chandan Prabhakar, the show is certainly losing its charm if not an essence.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/television/the-kapil-sharma-show-sunil-grover-absence-has-affected-the-rating-so-badly-it-is-not-even-in-top-10-anymore-4595406/