Injuries, familiar problems stand between RCB and silverware

INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE, 2017

Injuries, familiar problems stand between RCB and silverware

MS Ramakrishnan • Last updated on Sun, 02 Apr, 2017, 09:57 PM

In Kohli and Rahul’s absence, AB de Villiers will have to shoulder much of the batting responsibility at the start of the season. © BCCI

Royal Challengers Bangalore are easily one of the most entertaining teams in the IPL. There’s a Virat Kohli-led enviable ensemble of batters on the field, well complemented by raucous supporters in the stands and millions on YouTube channel. It’s perfect… nearly. For, all that’s missing now, is silverware.

RCB’s batting unit has World Cup and World T20 winners, the No. 1 batsman of the format and even a proven IPL performer. And yet the team has failed to be crowned champions. But it’s also easy to see why they haven’t tasted glory – they’ve been a lopsided, batting-heavy line-up. Kohli left peers, opponents and every single pair of eyes on last year’s IPL, dumbstruck with his unmatched form with the bat. He amassed 973 runs, with four centuries, and single-handedly powered them to the final.

A brand, new edition of IPL, after a long home season, has opened a different, potentially debilitating challenges for RCB. Even their stronger batting suit will now have to be shouldered by different heads following injuries to Kohli and KL Rahul. The captain will be reassessed for participation after a couple of weeks while Rahul, behind only Kohli and de Villiers in the team’s batting charts last season, will give the whole season a miss.

The team were dealt a massive blow when Mitchell Starc – their most potent weapon in the bowling department – opted out of the tournament’s 2017 edition. This meant they had to go hammer and tongs at the auction for a top-class bowler. They showed that by going the distance with a whopping INR 12 crore bid in an intense four-way bidding war for England fast bowler Tymal Mills, who has earned the reputation of being a versatile fast bowler – a prerequisite for one plying his trade in T20s.

The team management seemed to have gone into the auction with a clear mindset, wanting to beef up their bowling battalion. The second most notable addition to the squad was Rajasthan’s left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary, who was bought for INR 2 crore from a base price of 10 lakh. In fact, when the auctions were happening, Aniket, who bowls at a decent pace and swings the ball, was actually bowling to Virat Kohli in the nets to prepare India for the Starc test ahead of the four-match series against Australia.

RCB look a very good team on paper and with a lot of uncertainties over the reshuffling of squads for IPL-11 next year, they’d hope to give their 100 percent for the title this season, for it could be tough to assemble such a formidable unit.

One individual who’d desperate to perform well on the field is Chris Gayle, who had an average season in 2016. In fact, it was just the second season with RCB where Gayle did not record a triple-figure score, after 2014. He was no more a sure-shot selection in the playing XI despite his decorated T20 career, so much so that he was even left out of the eleven a few times last season. With Rahul ruled out, the need for Gayle to rekindle his best form becomes imperative.

The build up to IPL-10, however, has not been great for the left-hander, with quiet outings in the Bangladesh Premier League and the Pakistan Super League that followed. A good season is vital to Gayle’s future at RCB, especially with the aforementioned shuffling of squads in 2018.

Strengths

RCB’s batting line-up is undoubtedly the best in the tournament. Even with Kohli out for a couple of weeks at least, Gayle, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson should be able to pack enough in their punch to put bowling sides in trouble and turn games on their head.

Weaknesses

A no-brainer really. There is absolutely no doubt that accuracy with the ball, especially in the death overs, has been a major problem for RCB. Barring Starc, who could nail reverse-swinging yorkers at will, they haven’t managed to snap up any special talent. Their big-money buy Mills has the opportunity to rid RCB of their bowling woes.

Opportunities

Yuzvendra Chahal’s rise as a quality leg-spinner has been quite impressive with his RCB showing, so much so that he made the national selectors take note and even earned an India cap. This season, he plays a key role in their bowling plans and his consistency levels will be closely monitored.

Pawan Negi, their newest buy, had a forgettable outing last year after going for a massive bid of INR 8.5 crore from Delhi Daredevils in the 2016 auction. This time around, at RCB, he could well be named ahead of Iqbal Abdulla – their second-choice Indian spinner in 2016 – because of his potential to hit the ball long and clean.

Stuart Binny has not quite managed to be in the limelight at the international circuit since the emergence of Hardik Pandya. With RCB likely to have three front-line pacers, the Karnataka all-rounder gives them the extra medium-pace option with swing up front with the new ball, in addition to his big-hitting abilities with the bat. An excellent season could give him a great chance of knocking on the selectors’ doors once more, with India set to move out of their home comforts in the coming seasons.

Many eyes will be on Kedar Jadhav – the finisher. He gave India a lot of hope of fitting into the role in the middle-order during the ODIs against England and his ability to handle pressure situations is something the selectors would want to zoom in on during this season.

Threats

Yes, the Chinnaswamy stadium is a great place for fans to enjoy T20 cricket, but the bowlers are generally none-too-pleased. The reason, you ask? Short boundaries and a batsmen-friendly strip. No target is safe and the toss becomes far too vital. It is for this reason, the Chinnaswamy has never quite evolved into a fortress for the home side.

What the schedule holds

RCB would want to have a close eye on how they begin the season. Winning just two out of their first seven games put immense pressure on the team last year, although they won six games out of seven in the second half of the tournament and even managed a top-two finish.They have an even spread of home and away games and also finish off their two games against bogey team Sunrisers Hyderabad well in advance. They close out their season with two games and an away trip to Delhi. It is an itinerary that could have so easily been worse.

The team would be better served if the middle-order manages to stay in good touch through the league phase, should they progress beyond. Kohli and de Villiers batted out most of the overs last year – but the chances of the duo having such a dream season simultaneously yet again could be too much to ask for, even if the two are known to defy the law of averages and probabilities on a routine basis.

Ideal Starting XI: Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, AB de Villiers (stand-in captain), Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Kedar Jadhav, Stuart Binny, Pawan Negi/Iqbal Abdulla, Yuzvendra Chahal, Tymal Mills, Sreenath Arvind/Aniket Choudhary

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Imagine the slash and burn cricket of Naga Mirchis vs Guntur Chillies 😜

The Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket season is about to commence, just as the Indian Political League steps back after a hectic election spell. Considering the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) has lost a lot of lolly to the ICC in recent weeks, here is a suggestion for Indian cricket honchos to expand the game beyond IPL format to states, cities, suburbs, and even mohallas, so it can recoup the losses and generate more revenues.

To do this, administrators can tap into India’s vast geo-socio-political milieu, encouraging formation of new cricket teams with new paradigms. Just eight or ten IPL teams duking it out won’t do. There is enough competitive fire and animus in India to have many such leagues and myriad teams, giving voice (and cricket) to every section of the population. This will dissipate a lot of energy and anger that is otherwise expressed through rioting, arson, hartal, stone-throwing etc.

For instance, the recent agitation in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for retaining traditions such as Jallikattu and Kambala (a buffalo race) should have engendered teams called Tamil Nadu Jollycats and Karnataka Comeballers to play each other to determine which is better. Similarly, we could have ethnicity- and linguistic-based teams and match-ups such as Kashmiri Stonethrowers v Telengana Hungerstrikers, Malayali Malingers v Naga Naysayers etc. They could even be political outfit based, bringing into play teams such as Hurriyat Harriers facing off Dravida Dominoes.

There can also be separate metropolitan based leagues representing the defining characteristic of each city – for e.g., Bangalore TrafficJammers v Delhi Polluters, Mumbai Slumdwellers v Chennai Self-Immolators etc. Tier Two and Tier Three cities and towns can also jump into the fray (and aim for promotion to the big league) after contests between the likes of Mysore Retirees v Pune Pensioners. For that matter, even satellite cities and suburbia can get in on the action with games between the likes of Gurgaon Pretenders v Noida Nobodies. Hill Stations could line up the likes of Khandala Loafers v Kodai Romeos.

Teams could also be formed on the basis of geographical food preferences (UP Doodhwalas v Punjab Lassiwalas, Bengal Mithaiwalas v Rajasthani Halwais etc). Small towns boasting of geography specific specialties could throw up teams (Ratnagiri Alphonsos, Nagpur Oranges, Naga Mirchis, Darjeeling Teas, Malabar Peppers, Guntur Chillies, Tezpur Litchis, Nanjangud Bananas, Allahabadi Surkhas, Bikaneri Bhujias) that would bring spice and flavor to the league. Imagine the slash and burn cricket between two hot teams like Naga Mirchis v Guntur Chillies.

When all is said and done, we will have huge revenues and lasting enmity. We can then get ready for a transcontinental showdown between Indian Friends and Australian Fiends.
Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ruminations/let-1000-leagues-bloom-imagine-the-slash-and-burn-cricket-of-naga-mirchis-vs-guntur-chillies-f0-9f-98-9c/?utm_source=Popup&utm_medium=Old&utm_campaign=TOIHP

BCCI CoA to meet office-bearers ahead of IPL 10 opening fixture

It is learnt that both Vinod Rai and Vikram Limaye will be meeting the three office-bearers to ensure smooth conduct of the cash-rich league. (Source: File) It is learnt that both Vinod Rai and Vikram Limaye will be meeting the three office-bearers to ensure smooth conduct of the cash-rich league. (Source: File)

The Committee of Administrators (COA) has summoned the current set of BCCI office-bearers for a meeting in Hyderabad on April 5.

The meeting will be held with senior vice-president CK Khanna, joint secretary Amitabh Chaudhary and treasurer Aniruddh Chaudhry, who are all expected to be in the cyber city, for the opening ceremony of the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

It is learnt that both Vinod Rai and Vikram Limaye will be meeting the three office-bearers to ensure smooth conduct of the cash-rich league.

They might discuss the April 9 Special General Meeting, where the N Srinivasan coterie will be trying to push the Tamil Nadu strongman’s name as BCCI representative at the ICC Meeting.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/ipl-2017-10/bcci-coa-to-meet-office-bearers-ahead-of-ipl-10-opening-fixture-4596938/

Ligue 1 Roundup: Nice strengthen grip on third place after beating Bordeaux

All of Mario Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home. (Source: Reuters) All of Mario Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home. (Source: Reuters)

Striker Mario Balotelli equalized from the penalty spot and then helped to create the winner as Nice rallied to beat Bordeaux 2-1 in the French league on Sunday.

The win moved third-placed Nice one point behind Paris Saint-Germain and four behind leader Monaco, although they both have a game in hand on Nice, which hosts PSG at the end of April.

All of Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home, and the Italian forward confidently struck a 16th-minute penalty after veteran midfielder Jeremy Toulalan was adjudged to have fouled right back Arnaud Soquet as he burst into the area.

Bordeaux had taken the lead in the ninth minute thanks to a fine goal from Gaetan Laborde. The striker took advantage of an error from Nice’s Brazilian center half Dante to break into the penalty area, beat two defenders and score with an angled finish.

After leveling from the penalty spot, Balotelli showed clever anticipation to cushion a pass into the path of midfielder Valentin Eysseric, who turned to hit a brilliant curling strike past goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso in the 27th minute from just outside the penalty area.

There were no goals in the second half but Bordeaux missed four chances, with forward Francois Kamano missing an open goal and missing with another strike.

“In the second half they dictated the game. If you lose the ball against them, they are lethal,” Nice coach Lucien Favre said of Bordeaux. “But you shouldn’t forget that we have several players injured, so hats off to the team.”

Bordeaux is in sixth place, one point behind fifth-placed Marseille.

RENNES 1, LYON 1

Lyon missed an early penalty and conceded a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw at 10-man Rennes.

Lyon failed to take advantage of having an extra man for nearly the whole game after Algerian defender Ramy Bensebaini was sent off in the fifth minute. The resulting spot kick, taken by Lyon top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, was well saved by goalkeeper Benoit Costil.

Midfielder Corentin Tolisso went close three times as Lyon dominated the first half, but the visitors had to wait until the 53rd minute before taking the lead when forward Maxwell Cornet turned in a cross from left back Jeremy Morel.

Congolese forward Firmin Mubele equalized for midtable Rennes in the 82nd with his first goal since joining Rennes from Qatari club Al-Ahli.

“Given the circumstances we should have won the match,” Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. “So, yes, this draw feels like a defeat. We started losing track of what we were doing 15 minutes from the end, and I don’t know why. Perhaps it was a lack of concentration.”

Lyon has not won away in the league since beating leader Monaco 3-1 in December and dropped more points in its quest to catch third-placed Nice.

Lyon is 16 points behind Nice.

“Given what we showed today, we don’t deserve to be on the podium (in the top three),” Genesio said. “I’m irritated, for want of a better word.”

OTHER MATCHES

Burkina Faso striker Prejuce Nakoulma scored both goals as Nantes beat Angers 2-1 to move up to ninth place.

Striker Andy Delort got his fourth goal since joining from Mexican club Tigres in January as Toulouse won 1-0 at Montpellier to go 10th.

Cameroon striker Benjamin Moukandjo’s 10th league goal of the season helped Lorient beat Caen 1-0 as it bids to avoid relegation. Lorient is 19th but only one point behind 17th-placed Dijon.

Paris Saint-Germain beat Monaco 4-1 in the League Cup final on Saturday.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/ligue-1-roundup-nice-strengthen-grip-on-third-place-after-beating-bordeaux-4597069/

New ARSR Game Mode Coming Soon to PBE

League of Legends: New ARSR Game Mode Coming Soon to PBE

Prepare for All Random Summoner’s Rift!

Courtesy of League of Legends

While the most popular map of League of Legends is Summoner’s Rift by a landslide, it’s easy to forget that other maps and game modes exist. For example, the Twisted Treeline is designed for 3v3 games, the Howling Abyss is designed for 1v1 games, and the Crystal Scar is home to rotating game modes Ascension and Definitely Not Dominion.

In a post on the League of Legends boards, L4T3NCY announced that a new game mode called ARSR is coming soon to the PBE for testing. The game mode is simply Summoner’s Rift but every player is randomly given a champion from their own champion pool and the free-to-play rotation champions. Rerolls will be allowed but will be shared with ARAM. In addition, gold, experience, keys, and chests will be earned as normal. Unlike the normal game mode, ARSR is intended to be a casual game mode designed to be played for fun.

Although there are no plans to make ARSR a permanent addition to League of Legends just yet, L4T3NCY stated that they’re not entirely against the idea either. The main reason is because ARSR wouldn’t require as much upkeep as a game mode like Dominion did so it would be easy to keep the new game mode around. If that happens, ARSR would be the first game mode to be permanently added to League of Legends since Dominion was removed from the game back in February 2016.
Courtesy: http://hollywood.com

Source: https://esports.hollywood.com/league-of-legends-new-arsr-game-mode-coming-soon-to-pbe-fa242dedb067?source=collection_home—4——2———–

Toy Box 2017 Skins Now Available

League of Legends: Toy Box 2017 Skins Now Available

Moo Cow Alistar, Renektoy, Super Kennen, and Pug’Maw are ready to play!

Courtesy of League of Legends

With April Fool’s Day just around the corner, League of Legends continues its yearly tradition of releasing silly skins to celebrate the wacky holiday. Last year saw the introduction of Draven Draven, Meowkai, Urf Kench, and Definitely Not Vel’Koz. For 2017, League of Legends has taken inspiration from Pixar’s Toy Story franchise to deliver new ridiculous skins for Alistar, Renekton, Kennen, and Kog’Maw.

Each skin comes with unique features including Moo Cow Alistar’s cowbell solo and Pug’Maw’s drool drenched tennis ball. Both Moo Cow Alistar and Pug’Maw are available for 975 RP, while Renektoy and Super Kennen are available for 750 RP.

Courtesy of League of Legends

Draven Draven from last year’s April Fool’s Day skins will be available for 500 RP through April 3rd. In addition, new chromas for Moo Cow Alistar, Dino Gnar, Meowkai, and Surprise Party Amumu are on sale for 290 RP each!
Courtesy: http://hollywood.com

Source: https://esports.hollywood.com/league-of-legends-toy-box-2017-skins-now-available-9ecaf7f70b3?source=collection_home—4——2———–

Jose Mourinho laments lack of killer instinct as Manchester United stumble

Manchester United coach was left lamenting his side’s inability to kill off opponents. (Source: Reuters) Manchester United coach was left lamenting his side’s inability to kill off opponents. (Source: Reuters)

Jose Mourinho could not hide his displeasure at his side’s lack of cutting edge as Manchester United failed to make significant ground on their Champions League-chasing rivals in a 0-0 draw against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The draw — their 11th of the season — extended their undefeated Premier League streak to 19 matches.

United last lost a league game in October when they were humbled 4-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and Mourinho is enjoying his longest unbeaten run in the top flight since October 2005 when his own Chelsea side went 40 games without defeat.

But his side are still four points short of the fourth Champions League spot, having won only four and drawn eight of their last 12 league games at Old Trafford.

And the United coach was left lamenting his side’s inability to kill off opponents.

“We have a lot of draws this season,” Mourinho told BBC Sport. “Teams come here just to defend, goalkeepers come here to be man of the match. “We cannot score a goal even when we are one-on-one. We beat everyone on quality of play and direction of the game, possession, creation and ambition but we drew too many matches.”

United enjoyed 75 percent of the possession against Tony Pulis’s disciplined Albion, but while they took 18 shots to the visitors’ three, they failed to break down their opponents’ back line.

Their reliance on summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has scored 15 of United’s 43 goals this season, was again evident in his absence.

With the striker suspended, a front four of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard had no solution to Albion’s rugged defensive display.

“One team had the ball, one team didn’t. One team tried to win, the other tried to draw,” Mourinho concluded in a tetchy interview.

Pulis, whose West Bromwich team remain eighth, with 44 points, praised his side’s resolve.

“If we won at the end, it would have been unjust,” he acknowledged. “We’re really pleased with the effort and commitment they put in today. United have some really good players. No matter how well set up you are, you’ll always be on your back foot.

“It’s a fabulous point to get at Old Trafford.” The group plays very well together. They play very compact but we had opportunities to spring out of it, like against Arsenal (a 3-1 victory for West Bromwich on March 18).

“Their resilience and commitment was fantastic.”

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/jose-mourinho-laments-lack-of-killer-instinct-as-manchester-united-stumble-4596428/

Raheem Sterling confident Manchester City can secure Champions League spot

Raheem Sterling thinks the clash against Arsenal is massive for Manchester City. (Source: Reuters) Raheem Sterling thinks the clash against Arsenal is massive for Manchester City. (Source: Reuters)

Raheem Sterling says he is “more than confident” that Manchester City can secure one of the top four spots in the Premier League that will guarantee them Champions League football next season.

Yet City’s England international is wary of the potential backlash from a wounded Arsenal in what he describes as a “massive, massive” clash at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

This season’s adventures in Europe for City came to an anti-climactic end with a 3-1 defeat in Monaco last month and a subsequent draw at home to Liverpool left Pep Guardiola’s men still with a real fight on their hands to secure another crack at the biggest club prize in 2017-18.

Currently, City are fourth but a victory at Arsenal would move them back into third and go a long way to helping them nail down a Champions League berth.

“The way we play and with the players we’ve got, I’m more than confident that we can definitely challenge for that (top four) and possibly even more, as well, because we have some great players,” said the England winger.

“At the end of the day we want to be challenging to be the best each year. Chelsea might be ahead right now but we’ve got to keep winning our games. That’s all we’re focused on between now and the end of the season.”

Starting, he hopes, with a victory at Arsenal which would not only put them seven points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United but 10 clear of the Gunners in sixth.

Sterling senses that it could be another season-shaping afternoon, just like the fixture between the two sides in the week before Christmas, which City won 2-1 to put their campaign back on an even keel after a rocky patch.

“It was a massive win. We’d lost to Chelsea and then at Leicester, and the Arsenal game put us back on track. Sunday will also be a massive, massive game,” said Sterling, who scored the winner in December’s fixture.

“It’s been kind of difficult for Arsenal more recently but with the kind of players they have and the manager they have, at any moment they can start winning games again and go on a good run.”

The 22-year-old is encouraged, though, by his special memories of playing against the Londoners ever since he was a youth player at Queens Park Rangers.

“I love playing against Arsenal. It’s always been a thing for me, even when I was younger. Going away to their training ground was always a massive day for me because I like their style of play. Hopefully, it will be another good day.”

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/raheem-sterling-confident-manchester-city-can-secure-champions-league-spot-4596266/

Hull City get relegation lifeline as Andrea Ranocchia downs West Ham United

West Ham are on 33 points and will hope to secure their first league victory since early February at Arsenal. (Source: Reuters) West Ham are on 33 points and will hope to secure their first league victory since early February at Arsenal. (Source: Reuters)

Hull City’s Andrea Ranocchia headed home a late winner as they beat West Ham United 2-1 at home on Saturday to boost their Premier League survival hopes and extend the visitors’ winless streak to six matches.

Ranocchia met a corner from substitute Kamil Grosicki and flicked his header past Darren Randolph in the 85th minute to take 18th-placed Hull up to 27 points, provisionally level with Swansea City in 17th, ahead of the Welsh side’s home game against Middlesbrough on Sunday.

West Ham striker Andy Carroll opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Hull centre back Curtis Davies misjudged Aaron Cresswell’s ambitious cross and the towering forward controlled the ball on his chest and finished calmly past Eldin Jakupovic.

Hull had never lost a Premier League home game against West Ham and Andrew Robertson dragged them level with his 53rd-minute equaliser against the run of play, firing low past Randolph after fine interplay with the impressive Grosicki.

West Ham are on 33 points and will hope to secure their first league victory since early February at Arsenal on Wednesday when Hull host Middlesbrough in a relegation six-pointer.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/hull-city-get-relegation-lifeline-as-andrea-ranocchia-downs-west-ham-united-4596124/

Premier League leaders Chelsea stunned 2-1 by Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace has won its last four games but is only four points above the relegation zone. (Source: Reuters) Crystal Palace has won its last four games but is only four points above the relegation zone. (Source: Reuters)

Premier League leader Chelsea lost for the first time in nearly three months as relegation-threatened Crystal Palace won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to keep up its resurgence under Sam Allardyce.

Wilfried Zaha sparked Palace’s comeback after Cesc Fabregas’ fifth-minute opener for Chelsea, with the winger equalizing in the 9th and setting up Christian Benteke for the winning goal barely a minute later.

It was only Chelsea’s fourth loss of the season, and first since a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham on Jan 4.

Spurs are leading the unlikely chase to reel in Chelsea, closing to within seven points after a 2-0 win at Burnley on Saturday. Both teams have nine games left to play.

Palace had goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to thank for preserving the lead as Chelsea dominated after going behind, with the defensive effort even harder because of injuries to center backs James Tomkins and Scott Dann.

Palace has won its last four games but is only four points above the relegation zone.

Chelsea lost despite having star winger Eden Hazard back in the team after injury.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/leader-chelsea-loses-2-1-to-crystal-palace-4595644/