Manchester City focused for tough Arsenal and Chelsea tests: Aleix Garcia

Manchester City will also face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on April 23. (Source: Reuters) Manchester City will also face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on April 23. (Source: Reuters)

The international break has allowed Manchester City players to recuperate and refocus ahead of their Premier League trips to Arsenal and Chelsea, midfielder Aleix Garcia has said.

Garcia said City, who are third in the league, needed time to recover after a spell of four games in 11 days across tournaments before the two-week break from club football.

City’s last match was a 1-1 draw at home against fourth-placed Liverpool and the Spaniard said their next league fixtures will define their season.

“Some players can rest and others can just take their minds off to come back as strong as possible to keep fighting for our goals until the end of the season,” the 19-year-old, who made his City debut last September, told the club website.

“We face lots of games – lots of very important games in a few days that will define our season. “I expect games like the one against Liverpool – tough games.”

With City knocked out of the Champions League earlier this month and trailing league leaders Chelsea by 12 points, Garcia believes the FA Cup has taken increased importance in manager Pep Guardiola’s first season at the club.

“Winning the Premier League is difficult and we are out of the Champions League, so the FA Cup is probably the best chance we have this season,” Garcia added.

“The team is ready to win it and this is what we want. We will fight to win it.”

Following Sunday’s trip to the Emirates, Man City visit Chelsea, who have lost just once at Stamford Bridge this season, three days later.

City will also face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on April 23.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/manchester-city-focused-for-tough-arsenal-and-chelsea-tests-aleix-garcia-4590973/

This IPL season, RCB are the hot favourite of the bookies

AB de Villiers in action during IPL 9. File Pic

Even as the country’s most glamorous and cash-rich cricket season, Indian Premier League (IPL), is scheduled to begin on April 5, law enforcement agencies have activated their sources to prevent any illegal activities, including betting. However, bookies have already swung into action.

Right after the online ticket bookings of the matches began, bookies released their betting rate cards. “If bookies are to be believed, the 10th season’s favourite team, is Royal Challengers Bangalore. But, if captain Virat Kohli misses the early part of the season due to his recent injury, the present rate, which has been set at 3.75, could differ,” says an insider.

Virat Kohli in action during IPL 9. File Pic

The rates have been set according to the recent performance of players in the teams. The source adds, “Bookies have predicted that Mumbai Indians, Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions will be among the best performing teams. The rates for these three teams vary by a small margin.”

While the rate for Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Lions has been set at 6.30, Pune Supergiant is at 6.10.

They believe Sunrisers Hyderabad also have potential and have, therefore, set the rate for the team at 7.20. Delhi Daredevils, which underwent a revamp two seasons ago, could take this season by storm, the source says.
Courtesy: http://www.mid-day.com/

Source: http://www.mid-day.com/articles/rcb-hot-favourite-bookies-virat-kohli-mumbai-indians-ipl-10-ipl-2017-t20-cricket-news/18119160

Happy with the No.1 ranking but main challenge begins now: Kohli

AUSTRALIA TOUR OF INDIA, 2017

Happy with the No.1 ranking but main challenge begins now: Kohli

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 05:50 PM

Kohli was pleased with the way Rahane led the team. © BCCI

Indian captain Virat Kohli addressed the media on Tuesday (March 28) in Dharamsala after his side completed a 2-1 series win over Australia. He praised his teammates and the support staff following India’s dominant performances in the home season. Excerpts from the press conference:

13 matches, 10 wins, A lookback at the season to team and support staff:

It is a very proud moment. Playing good cricket all season, especially in the home season we dominated all of it. It was very important for a young side to do so and build a team for the future. So that we can give such performances consistently. That we did in this whole season and it was important how we responded to difficult situations. Support staff, management and everyone else was working hard on this aspect, so that in difficult moments and situations, we would be able to counter and come back in those moments. The credit goes to all of them, support staff role is not highlighted much but their contribution is nearly 40 percent, 60 for the team, because they handle the players’ mindset and their skills and working hard with them, giving good feedback to them, so these are important things. So this is a team effort, rather this is a squad effort because it involves everyone. Credit goes to everyone in this squad.

Finest hour as captain? Not as happy?

It has nothing to do with that. It is a classic case of understanding that this is not the end of anything. No need to get over excited with whatever we have done. We are very happy with no.1 ranking in the world, but our main challenge begins now. If we can conquer the overseas season, that’s when you will see a broader smile on my face when I sit down for the press conference. To understand where we are placed and the kind of cricket we have played, and where we stand as individuals at the end of season, it makes me very happy as a captain.

Pacers performances? Planned for future, overseas tours?

For sure, it is a very important aspect of our side. We have worked hard on the fitness levels of the guys over the past two years and it’s showing. When teams prepare only for your spinners and our fast bowlers come in and bowl those kind of spells, it can really shake the opposition and that’s exactly what these guys have been able to do. Important breakthroughs and main players most of the times, getting us those important breakthroughs after partnerships. Seizing the momentum for the team has been outstanding on part of the fast bowlers. I just wouldn’t say Shami and Umesh but Bhuvi given the opportunities has picked up five-fors. Ishant has been outstanding in West Indies, in Sri Lanka, whenever he has played as well. That’s probably been the one factor that has been the difference in our winning all these series compared to drawing a few or drawing a few games. We have been able to win more games than we have drawn or lost. That’s been probably one of the important factors in that.

No. 1 in West Indies, and how look at it now after all these games?

Ya, because it happened in a flash and we were just one point away from Pakistan at the second spot. That’s why I wasn’t too excited about it because it was a short term thing. But now I can sit down and be proud of what the guys have been able to achieve since then and different aspects have come up – lower-order contributions, spinners have been outstanding throughout, fast bowlers have been brilliant, the batsmen have stepped up on many occasions. Different people. Not just one or two guys, but everyone has contributed throughout the season. If you don’t have a team performance, you can’t be the No. 1 team in the world. As simple as that. If you want to win more Test games, you have to have complete team performances. It’s the main reason why we are sitting here as the No. 1 team in the world and we have quite a fair distance above the other teams. That makes me very proud as a captain and all the guys in the change room are very happy with what they have been able to achieve and ending the season on a high.

Plans for this series?

Nothing different from what we have done in the past. The focus was obviously to maintain our skills, our momentum that we gained throughout the season and execute that. I mentioned in the post match, credit to Australia, the way they have played in this series. They have really challenged us really hard and it tested the guys’ character to bounce back from difficult situations many a time. Specially Jinks, the way he captained in this game was really pleasing to see because it has just been four Test matches since he has come back from his injury and to step up, show that character and lead the side to a win, hats off to him as well. He has really taken the responsibility well and I was really, really happy to see him doing that. He was also very delighted to be taking that responsibility for the team. These kinds of series, these kind of matches, they build character for the guys. They become more individuals very sure of themselves, their games. And when you have 7-8 people in the side who are that sure of their abilities and their mindset, then you become a champion side and you keep that going for a long period of time. Nothing different from what we have done in the past, it was very similar but the resistance from the opposition was a lot more compared to the last few series that we have played. Credit goes to the way they played their cricket as well.

On playing Kuldeep

I spoke to Jinks before the game and he asked me what I feel. I said, this is your game, you have to be comfortable with playing four or five bowlers. He instantly said five bowlers because he understands the workloads of the guys throughout the whole season and to keep pushing two guys to take wickets for you regularly is unfair when the body is tired and it has taken a toll. So that fifth bowler, that was Anil bhai and Jinks and myself, we all had a discussion. Kuldeep was the X factor, they hand;t played him, they hadn’t see him much and he turned out to the difference in the game. I think from 130/1 to 300 all out in the same day can really demoralise the opposition. And I think it was a great call on Jinx and Anil Bhai’s part. Credit to him, he went in with five bowlers and the batsmen took up the responsibility as well. To win Test matches, you need some courage before you start, to take that little bit of risk and play five batsmen, which we done throughout the season on most occasions. It takes more responsibility out of you but that is what it is required of you playing at this level and it was his and Anil bhai’s decision eventually to go in with five bowlers and it was the right one in the end.

On what has changed for Umesh since 2014. Is he the best paceman since Zaheer?

I would put him and Shami together, at par. On pure pace, striking ability and making dents in the game, he would be at par with Shami. Obviously, you can’t compare them to Zak yet because Zak had done it for a longer period of time. But from 2014 to now, Umesh Yadav the only thing that has changed in him is his mindset. He was always a very fit guy, he probably used to bowl even quicker than he is now, but he has understood his game, become smarter. He used to bowl 145kmph regularly, now he is touching 140kmph now at odd times but he is very smart with what he wants to bowl in spells. That has been a really, really big difference in his game. Obviously when guys give confidence saying you are my strike bowler, they respond in that way. Then they are not thinking about getting hit for runs or any of that sort. It is a give and take, it takes a combination of lot of things, but 80% of the credit is Umesh’s for the way he has gone out there and executed it. You can take in all the advice but you have to go out there and do it eventually. Credit to him, the way he has taken his game to the next level, I am really happy for him.

On missing a Test after so many matches, sitting outside?

Well, I jerked my shoulder four times yesterday celebrating outside. So that’s how much energy I had and I couldn’t sit in the change room. So it is not nice. I don’t know how many Test matches I’ve played in a row (54), so if it was a strain injury it would have been different, but impact injury really gave me no options. And to start a game at 50% was not fair on the team. That’s the kind of person I have always been and I’ll continue to be. But yes it was difficult watching from the outside when you have been in the thick of things all the time for past so many years and seasons. But the most pleasing thing is when you see guys taking the responsibility in your absence and actually going out there to play one of the best ever Test matches that as a viewer you can see. I would call myself a viewer out there. I really enjoyed it. It was not easy to not play this game, but at the end of the day sitting here and having won the series, I have no complaints.

Five batsmen, responsibility on top 3

Well, massive. That’s very very important. Obviously Pujara has been very impressive in this series. But Vijay has been a consistent opener for a while. To look at KL, the way he has played in this series, he’s probably not in focus too much, but to get six 50-plus scores, for an opener to be that consistent is tremendous. He’ll want to convert them into big runs but the impact he has had in this series, not giving early wickets to Australia, has been very very pleasing. I’ve seen him from RCB, he had a great season for India and then he got injured. He was very down in that phase, he was really upset that he got injured at the wrong time. He had a good innings and then a few bad innings and then comes out and has a brilliant series, a big one. As I said these kind of series can build character and make individuals. This is one of those instances for KL. You’ll certainly remember him for a long time in years to come with the innings he will play. I think this is where he will make a start as an international recognised opener, probably one of the best openers India has had.

What made Australia the toughest opposition?

“I think they had the belief of making things happen in these conditions, that’s something that I sensed in their body language and the way they played their cricket. They believed they could win sessions and win situations and that was the most important thing, and the most challenging thing for us. Whereas teams really lose their morale once they lose a Test match in India, but they kept bouncing back and they had the desire to compete throughout. That’s why they are the number two side in the world. You expect that from Australia, once they get a sniff they put you under pressure. But the way we responded, I’m really proud of that as well. I would say their relentlessness and their desire to make things happen in these conditions was probably the reason why they kept giving us a great fight to the end of this Test match. So a lot of credit goes to them.”

Areas to improve

Our main focus was to build the fast bowling group, not for overseas conditions but to understand the importance of the breakthroughs they can give in the home season as well. Few of the guys have told me that the kind of fast bowling bunch that we have now gives a good chance to go outside India and put in good performances. I’m certainly very sure and positive about the fact that these guys can deliver away from home and give you machining performances. The fitness levels have gone up and relentlessness of their bowling, the consistency, has improved, and there is a lot more desire in all the guys to make things happen and be persistent for a long time. That’s something they have built, the credit goes to them completely. I’m sure they will be able to sustain this for longer periods when we go overseas, and not let the game drift away. Pretty excited about what lies ahead for us as a team.

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93619/happy-with-the-no1-ranking-but-main-challenge-begins-now-kohli

India wrap up marathon home season with sensational win

END OF A SUPERB SEASON

India wrap up marathon home season with sensational win

• Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 11:25 AM Vishaal Loganathan in Dharamsala

Rahul gave India their victory and brought up his sixth fifty of the series. © BCCI

India wrapped up the four-match series against Australia and their marathon Test season of 17 Tests in fine fashion, as their batsmen chased down the target of 106 with eight wickets to spare on the fourth day in Dharamsala on Tuesday (March 28). KL Rahul laid the base for the win with a finely-crafted fifty while Ajinkya Rahane, in his first Test as captain, gave India a finishing touch that they would’ve have wanted with a brutal 28-ball 37, completing a fine turnaround after their crushing loss in Pune in the first Test.

As a result, India won the series 2-1, regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and ending the season as the top-ranked Test team in the world in a season that ended with 12 wins, four draws and a solitary defeat – an amazing phase that they will look back with immense pride.

India had put in a splendid bowling effort on the third day to dismiss Australia for 137. Needing 106 to complete a series victory, Murali Vijay and Rahul held on to their wickets for more than 30 minues. Runs didn’t really flow during a tough initial phase, but India made decent progress with Rahul looking to press on.

Australia needed a barrage of wickets and quickly if they were to put India under pressure. Pat Cummins gave them an opening when he had Vijay feather an edge behind while on 8. Vijay should have been dismissed in Cummins’s previous over, his first of the day, but the Australians didn’t choose to review a caught behind appeal that had gone off the gloves.

In the next over from Cummins, Vijay’s defence took the edge through to the keeper and the umpire made the right decision. Cheteshwar Pujara’s knock lasted just five deliveries, ending in a comical run-out after a huge mix up. Glenn Maxwell hit the stumps direct from covers and India suddenly found themselves two down.

The captain, Rahane came out looking to score quick and put the pressure back on Australia. He opened his account with a solid straight drive for four, and followed that up with an equally impressive pull off Cummins. After the drinks break, Rahane stepped into Twenty20 mode. He slammed a brutal pull over midwicket for six, and then followed it up by stepping away from the stumps and whacking another one over covers. Any hopes the Australians had of a miraculous comeback when up in smoke with those shots.

Rahul gave India their victory and brought up his sixth fifty of the series with a flick for three off Steve O’Keefe and let out a huge roar, while Rahane calmly went up to the Australians to shake hands.

India will look back at the series with tremendous pride. For the first time this season, they found themselves playing catch up, and they responded in style. They did not really find themselves in the dominant scenarios that had come to define them, but yet, chasing the eight ball, they showed they are still close to impossible to beat.

For Australia, they will go back with their head held high. They were expected to have their socks knocked off, but competed in every single game and took the contest until the end. They had their chances in the final game too, but couldn’t find the killer instinct to put India to the sword. A fascinating series, full of controversy and outstanding cricket comes to an end. Perhaps, this is one during which cricket was truly the winner.

Brief scores: Australia 300 & 137 (Glenn Maxwell 45; Ravindra Jadeja 3-24, Umesh Yadav 3-29, R Ashwin 3-29) lost to India 332 & 106/2 (KL Rahul 51*) by eight wickets.

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93607/india-cricket-team-wrap-up-marathon-home-season-with-sensational-win-over-australia-to-win-border-gavaskar-series-2017

Virat Kohli in doubt for start of IPL

IPL NEWS

Virat Kohli in doubt for start of IPL

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 01:58 PM

Kohli’s shoulder injury kept him out of the final Test against Australia. © BCCI

Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper, is a doubtful starter for the beginning of Indian Premier League season this year after having suffered a shoulder injury in the four-match Test series against Australia that the hosts won 2-1. Kohli, who missed the final Test in Dharamsala due to the injury he suffered on the first day of the third Test in Ranchi said that it will take some time for him to be fully fit.

“It is still a few weeks to go till I can be 100 percent on the field. These things happen in your career, just got to take it in my stride and move forward,” he said on conclusion of the Test series on Tuesday (March 28).

RCB are set to kickstart their IPL season on April 5 against Sunrisers Hyderabad. They will go on to play two more games in a span of five days.

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93611/virat-kohli-in-doubt-for-start-of-ipl

Chris Read to retire at end of upcoming county season

CALLING IT A DAY

Chris Read to retire at end of upcoming county season

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 03:39 PM

Read also played 15 Tests and 36 One-Day Internationals for England. © Getty

Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper and Club captain Chris Read has announced on Tuesday (March 28) that he will retire at the end of the forthcoming county season. Read, who is beginning his 20th season as a professional, will take up a job as Director of Cricket at Uppingham School from September.

Renowned as one of the finest glovemen England has ever produced, Read, 38, has made 677 appearances for Nottinghamshire to date, clocking-up 1,329 dismissals behind the stumps and scoring over 20,000 runs in all formats.

Read also played 15 Tests and 36 One-Day Internationals for England. Although he never hit the heights with the bat in the same way he did at first-class level, averaging under 20 in both formats, Read managed an impressive 91 international dismissals with the gloves.

“I feel very content with my career,” said Read. “It’s my 20th season at Trent Bridge and it’s been a wonderful experience. All good things must come to an end. After this season, it’s time for me to move on and start the next phase of my career with a fantastic opportunity at Uppingham School.

“I’m going to really enjoy this last six months of my playing career. I’ve set myself high standards throughout my career and this season is no different. I’ll be putting everything into Nottinghamshire, into driving us forward and making sure that, when I do leave at the end of September, the Club is in the best possible position.”

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Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93618/chris-read-to-retire-at-end-of-upcoming-county-season

Ask Cheteshwar Pujara’s wife Puja if she wants him to take a break, says KL Rahul

KL Rahul, who had scored six fifties in this series, chipped in as soon as Pujara completed what he had on his mind, saying: “You should ask Pujara’s wife if she wants Pujara to take a break. She will be the best one to tell that.” (Photo: BCCI)

Dharamsala: Four Tests, seven innings, 405 runs with an average of 57.86, a double hundred (202) and 2 fifties – Cheteshwar Pujara was India’s leading run-getter as the team reclaimed Border-Gavaskar Trophy beating Australia by 8 wickets in Dharamsala to win four- match Test series 2-1.

Read: Friendship with Australians is over, says Virat Kohli after India’s series win

Pujara, who has scored over 2,000 First Class runs this season, had been the mainstay of India’s batting line-up as India went on to win 10 of their 13 home Tests this season. After India’s win at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium, in Dharamsala, Pujara and KL Rahul’s interview with bcci.tv caused a moment of laughter as the young Indian opener left everyone in splits.

Pujara, who batted for 525 balls in Ranchi Test to become the Indian cricketer to have faced most number of balls in a Test innings, was asked by Ravi Shastri whether he needs a break.

“Over 2,000 first class runs, does Pujara need a break at the end of this all?” asked Shastri.

Pujara, who loves batting, said: “Not really, I would say. I will still like to keep going if there are few more matches because I have been batting well. I am enjoying my cricket,” said Pujara as his wife, Puja, was seen smiling and clapping from the stands.

“But all in all it was a fantastic season for me personally and even as a team, we wanted to be number one in the Test rankings. And the way we have played throughout the home season, was fantastic. So, I really enjoyed this particular season. So, I would like to continue this form even in the next season,” Pujara added.

Watch: When Matthew Wade asked Ravindra Jadeja what ‘m*******d’ means

KL Rahul, who had scored six fifties in this series, chipped in as soon as Pujara completed what he had on his mind, saying: “You should ask Pujara’s wife if she wants Pujara to take a break. She will be the best one to tell that.”

Cheteshwar Pujara, alongside Ravi Shastri, who was interviewing the duo, could not hold back his laughter and neither could Cheteshwar’s wife as the entire stadium erupted in laughter.
Courtesy: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/

Source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/sports/cricket/280317/ask-cheteshwar-pujaras-wife-puja-if-she-wants-him-to-take-a-break-says-kl-rahul.html

Indian cricket team end season as World No.1, to get richer by one million US dollars

India beat Australia 2-1 in the 4-match series to claim Border-Gavaskar Trophy. (Source: Reuters) India beat Australia 2-1 in the 4-match series to claim Border-Gavaskar Trophy. (Source: Reuters)

From on-field spats to some close encounters on the field, this four-match Test series between India and Australia has witnessed it all. After being thumped in the first Test in Pune, the Virat Kohli-led team came back in a more strong fashion to square the series in Bangalore and then eventually winning it in Dharamsala after the third clash in Ranchi ended in a draw.

India have had a terrific home season and their domination in Test cricket in the past couple of years have led them to rise to number one spot in the Test rankings. But there is more to this series win that just being sitting at the helm. India are all set to grab an amount of US $1 million prize cheque provided by the ICC April 1 cut-off date.

READ: I have been in my own bubble and have let my emotions slip. I apologise for that: Steve Smith

The amount is reward given to the team by the International Cricket Council for their magnificent game play on the field.

India just lost one game in this 13-match home season. They romped teams like New Zealand, South Africa, England, Bangladesh and Australia to add to their series win tally.

READ: Australian cricketers are no longer my friends, says India captain Virat Kohli

The Test at Dharamsala never looked easily for the hosts. On a pitch that seemed favorable for the batsmen, India lost the toss and Australian captain Steve Smith elected to bat first. A partnership between Smith and his deputy created pressure on the Indian side but debutant Kuldeep Yadav came in for the rescue of the home side. The Chinaman rookie picked up four wickets to halt Australia’s run flow and bundle them out for 300 runs.

Later India took the lead in first innings of 32 runs. The hosts then rode on aesthetic bowling performances from Umehs Yadav, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja to wrap their innings for 137 on day three. India were handed a target of 106 runs when KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane chipped in with spectacular partnership to help India claim the Border-Gavskar Trophy.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/indian-cricket-team-end-season-as-world-no-1-to-get-richer-by-one-million-us-dollar-4588929/