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Haven’t such body language in Indian players in long, Ashwin’s exclusion is mystery: Vengsarkar

Former chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar says he has not seen the Indian team as “off coloured” as it was against New Zealand in a long time and called for an investigation into R Ashwin’s repeated exclusion from the playing eleven. “The team looked off coloured and players looked jaded. I don’t know if it is the bio bubble fatigue or something else, I have not seen such body language in the players in a long time, Vengsarkar told PTI on a day after India’s eight-wicket loss to New Zealand.

“It was quite a lacklustre performance, be it in batting or bowling. This format demands you to be energetic from ball one,” added the former India captain.

In the first two games, India picked Varuan Chakaravarthy and Ravindra Jadeja as the two spinners, leaving out Ashwin who has made the white ball team after four years.

Vengsarkar can’t fathom the logic behind picking Ashwin in the squad if he is not going to play.

“Why is Ashwin being so dropped for so long? It is a matter of investigation. Across formats he is your best spinner with more than 600 international wickets. He is your senior most spinner and you don’t pick him.

“I fail to understand. He didn’t play a single game in the England Test series also. Why do you pick him then? It is a mystery to me.”

Hardik Pandya bowled for the first time in the tournament on Sunday but has not bowled regularly in a long time and is being picked more as a specialist batter.

“We are too top-three dependant. When they don’t fire, the team is in trouble more often than not. I can’t talk about Hardik’s fitness sitting here. All I can say is that as an all-rounder if you are not able to contribute with bat and ball, you are going to be under pressure.”

About Rohit Sharma’s demotion to number three to accommodate Ishan Kishan, Vengsarkar said it seemed like a one-off move since Suryukumar Yadav was injured.

Most of the batters failed to clear the boundary in Dubai and that is another worry for Vengsarkar.

“We need to have bigger boundaries in the


, especially in India. Most of our batters were caught in the deep yesterday,” the 65-year-old added.

Jos Buttler’s unbeaten century takes England to 163/4 against SL

Opener Jos Buttler smashed a magnificent unbeaten 101 to steer England to 163 for four in their Group 1 Super 12 match of the T20 World Cup against Sri Lanka, here on Monday.

Buttler continued his good form as he hit six fours and equal number of sixes during his 67-ball century while captain Eoin Morgan contributed 40 off 36 balls after England were invited to bat.

For Sri Lanka, Wanindu Hasaranga was the most successful bowler with figures of 3/21.

Brief Scores:

England: 163 for 4 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 101 not out, Eoin Morgan 40; Wanindu Hasaranga 3/21).

Indian football team finishes second in AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers

Indian football team secured its best ever finish in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers by claiming the second spot in Group E as goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh made some spectacular saves to help the side win the shootout against Kyrgyz Republic 4-2 after regulation time ended goalless here. With the match ending in a stalemate, both sides finished the group on four points apiece with the same goal difference (zero) and equal number of goals scored in all the matches (2).

To decide who takes the second and third spots, respectively, in Group E, a penalty shootout was held, which India won 4-2.

Earlier, UAE beat Oman 2-0 to end as the toppers of Group E.

Top teams from each Group qualify directly for next year’s continental showpiece along with the best four second-placed teams across all Groups.

India now need to wait till the conclusion of other Group matches to know if they can qualify for their maiden AFC U-23 Asian Cup.

In the penalty shootout, Dheeraj started with a couple of spectacular saves while Rahul KP, Rohit Danu, Suresh Singh, and Rahim Ali scored from the spot.

Earlier in the match, Apuia tried to hurl the first attack in as early as the fifth minute but his long-ranger could not pose any threat to the Kyrgyz defence. Two minutes later, Rahul, from the left flank, outran Kumarbai Uulu with sheer pace, but eventually Adilet Kanybekov neutralised his effort.

The central Asian outfit sprung into life three minutes later when forward Alygulov Maksat was denied by Narender inside the 18-yard-box, five minutes later, the youngster cancelled Tapaev Temirbolot’s right-footed curler.

Rahim shielded off Artiukov Daniil before rolling it to an onrushing Vikram whose left-footed effort flew away from the target in the 21st minute.

The forward played another pivotal role a minute later as he passed the ball to Amarjit, but the Manipuri midfielder skied his effort after four minutes.

Borubaev Gulzhigit beat the offside trap to outpace Asish Rai from the left, but Dheeraj came up with a spectacular save after the half-hour mark to keep the score unscathed.

Both teams headed to the changing room with the scores unchanged at the lemon break.

Kyrgyz Republic resumed with more intent and came close to breaking the deadlock in the 50th minute but Maksat skied his effort.

India appealed for a penalty on the hour-mark anticipating a handball inside the Kyrgyz box but the Malpian referee Mohamed Javiz paid no attention to it.

India latched on their best possible chance seven minutes later when Deepak Tangri put an acrobatic bicycle kick from handshaking distance, only to be thwarted by Kyrgyz goalkeeper Tokotaev Erzhan.

India’s pursuit for the winning goal could have come three minutes later, but Rahul’s fierce shot from 30 yards out came agonisingly close to breaching the indomitable Kyrgyz defence, only to have ricocheted off the post.

On the rebound, Vikram tried his luck but Erzhan jumped to his left to negate the danger.

At the other end, Kyrgyz broke away on a counter-attack, exploiting a mistake by the defender.

His backpass was anticipated by Sharshenbekov Arlen inside the box and he left it to an onrushing Abilov Ernaz, who snuck into the penalty box unmarked. Dheeraj, however, positioned himself perfectly to save it with his usual composure in the 85th minute.

With just minutes of regulation time left, Suresh lobbed a looping free-kick and Deepak Tangri fired it from close range, only to seen it saved by the opposition goalkeeper.

India struggle to 110-7 as Boult stars for inspired New Zealand

Pace bowler Trent Boult took three wickets in an inspired New Zealand attack as India limped to 110 for seven at the Twenty20 World Cup on Sunday.

Boult returned figures of 3-20 and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi took two wickets including Virat Kohli’s key scalp to deliver a huge blow to India’s hopes in the Super 12 clash in Dubai.

Ravindra Jadeja hit an unbeaten 26 and Hardik Pandya made 23 to take the score past 100 as both teams look for their first win.

Boult got Ishan Kishan out for four and nearly had Rohit Sharma on the next ball but Adam Milne dropped an easy catch at fine leg.

Milne, who replaced Tim Seifert as the only change in the New Zealand team from their opening loss to Pakistan, then gave away 15 runs from his first over with Sharma hitting the fast bowler for a four and a six.

But the New Zealand pace bowlers kept coming at the Indian batsmen as Tim Southee got KL Rahul walking back for 18 with another pull shot that found the fielder.

Sharma fell to Sodhi for 14, this time giving away a catch to long-on where Martin Guptill made no mistake.

Sodhi dismissed Kohli for nine after the captain mistimed a shot to be caught at long on and walked back to stunned silence at a stadium packed with Indian fans.

Pandya and Jadeja put up some resistence with a partnership of 24 that was broken by Boult who struck twice in his final over.

Mohammed Shami, the only Muslim player in the India team, walked in to loud cheers after being mercilessly trolled following the 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan.

Jadeja hit two fours and one six in his 19-ball stay.

Babar Azam’s mother was on ventilator when Pakistan played India, reveals captain’s father

Babar Azam‘s mother was on a ventilator when the Pakistan skipper went about leading his team to a thumping victory over arch-rivals India in their T20 World Cup match in Dubai last Sunday.

This was revealed by the captain’s father, Azam Siddiqui, on Saturday.

The right-handed batter smashed an unbeaten 68 against India on the big day, even as his mother was put on a ventilator following a surgery.

Babar’s father has posted a message on his Instagram account saying that the Pakistan captain played all three World Cup games “in severe distress”.

“It’s time for my nation to know some truth. Congratulations to all of you on the victory in all the three games. There was a big test at our house. On the day the match was against India, on that day Babar’s mother was on a ventilator,” Azam Siddiqui wrote on Instagram.

“Babar played all three matches in severe distress. I don’t want to come here. It was supposed to be, but I came so that Babar may not get weak. It is by the grace of God that he is fine now,” he added, alongside a family photograph.

Pakistan are on the verge of qualifying for the semifinals of the T20 showpiece, having won all their matches so far, including the 10-wicket drubbing of India in their opener.

“The purpose of sharing is to not criticise our national heroes without any reason. And yes, I know, if I don’t get paradise. If you get a position, you have to give exams too. Long live Pakistan,” Siddiqui said.

Babar is captaining Pakistan for the first time in a global event and has done well so far, evidence of which is the team’s unbeaten run in the ongoing T20 World Cup.

Pakistan next face Namibia on Tuesday.

Kohli’s hour of reckoning as India face New Zealand in ‘virtual quarter-final’

Virat Kohli will be facing the most defining test of his captaincy career as he expects his men to be the proverbial “phoenix rising from the ashes” when India take on a street-smart New Zealand in a ‘do-or-die’ ICC T20 World Cup Super 12 game here on Sunday. Having endured a nightmare last Sunday against Pakistan, a match that they would like to forget in a hurry, India have a lot of course correction to do against the Kiwis, more so in getting the roles assigned for the players right.

It wont be easy against a quality New Zealand, which will come hard at India having also lost to Pakistan in their opening game. Tim Southee and Trent Boult, especially have been a nemesis for the Indians in big games.

However, their soft underbelly is batting where Kane Williamson is still not hundred per cent and Martin Guptill also had a foot injury. It’s effective without being flamboyant, although, Devon Conway is a flashy batter.

And herein lies India’s chance but for that, their bowlers need to implement the game plans perfectly, something they couldn’t against Pakistan.

Even more important will be execution from two players on whom the team management has heavily invested — a half-fit Hardik Pandya and an out-of-form Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who have been the weak-links of this Indian team.

Hardik, who has not been the cricketer everyone feared since his back injury, is playing to save his India career.

That he hasn’t exactly been truthful about the status of his bowling capabilities has been exposed and trying to roll his arm over at the nets speaks volumes of his desperation. His franchise Mumbai Indians are putting him back in the auction pool and time, indeed, is running out for him.

Bhuvneshwar could well be playing his last international tournament. His pace has dropped remarkably in the past two seasons and somewhere he has not been a patch of what his younger competitor Deepak Chahar has been in recent years.

Yet, India have punted on his experience and it’s high-time that he delivers before being shunned into oblivion.

India have shown in recent times, at least, in Test arena that they can come back from brink with unforgettable performances but Kohli in his last assignment as T20 captain would like to change the script that always seemed to go awry at global events.

More so, because another failure at a mega event could well mean that there will be aspersions cast on his abilities as a white ball skipper and the 50-over leadership will also come under the scanner.

Kohli is a man, who loves it the tough way. He loves a good scrap and a situation where he envisages that the entire world (even if they are not) is out there to get him, conspiring against him and wants to see him fail.

He gets an adrenaline rush thinking about such a situation from where he is bailing out the team. But of late, Kohli, the skipper and Kohli, the batter haven’t been in sync like it had been in the past.

Now there is a world class performer, who is ready to play the waiting game, anchor the innings and happy to bat at a strike-rate of ‘120-ish’, letting others hog the limelight. It’s an act of self preservation which he is keeping his and Indian cricket’s best interests in mind as he is 33 and at least good six years of top-flight game still left in him.

India’s presence till the business end is not just an emotional necessity for its billion fans but also a commercial requirement for the tournament to retain its vigour.

Even after being clubbed in the easier group where three matches, including Afghanistan should be literally walk-in-the-park for these stars who rake in mega moolah per IPL season but are now facing the fear of an early exit from the tournament.

With Pakistan already on six points having played all their tough games (India, New Zealand and Afghanistan) in the first week of Super 12s, they are expected to steamroll Namibia and Scotland en route their expected top place finish in group 2.

This leaves both India and New Zealand in a virtual shoot-out position as whoever wins has a chance to finish on maximum eight points and grab the second place in the group.

However with the dew playing a major role in the evenings, toss is indeed playing a very crucial role in the outcome of night matches. Kohli will be hoping to at least win the toss and may be ensure that KL Rahul and Co don’t have to face Trent Boult’s ‘break back’ swingers first up when some moisture would be on offer.

Suryakumar Yadav would like to put up a better performance and Rishabh Pant would certainly like to finish off in style after the kind of start he got against Pakistan.

After what Shaheen Shah Afridi did to India, India would certainly be wary of Boult, who is a more skilful operator than the Pakistani, albeit at lesser pace.

In a nutshell, Kohli faces an acid test of his leadership career, which is reaching business end.

Teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Varun Chakravarthy, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Devon Conway, Tim Seifert (wk), James Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Mark Chapman, Adam Milne, Kyle Jamieson, Todd Astle.

T20 World Cup: India staring at league stage exit

Their campaign taking another hit with a second successive defeat, India will need to win all their remaining matches while hoping that other results go their way to keep their semifinal prospects alive in the T20 World Cup.

India and New Zealand were locked in a virtual quarter-final, from which the latter emerged triumphant following a convincing eight-wicket win, seven days after Virat Kohli’s men suffered a 10-wicket drubbing to arch-rivals Pakistan.

Virat Kohli’s men would now pray that Afghanistan beat New Zealand and India win their remaining three fixtures against Scotland, Namibia and the Afghanistan.

With the Indians scheduled to play the last game of the league stage, against Namibia, they might get an opportunity to improve their net run rate, provided other results favour them.

The loss against the Kiwis has pushed India on the brink of a league stage exit though technically they are still not out.

Pakistan have finished three big games and are expected to thrash Scotland and Namibia in their coming fixtures.

In the six-team Group 2, India are currently struggling at the fifth place with two losses after as many matches.

Pakistan lead the group with three wins in as many outings and they are followed by Afghanistan with two wins and a loss from three matches, and New Zealand in third place with a win and loss from two game.

Given Afghanistan’s potent spin attack, decent batting, and most importantly, their penchant for standing up to the bigger teams, they will be India’s bet against the New Zealanders.

The Afghans came close to winning their match against Pakistan before Asif Ali’s blitz put paid to their hopes.

T20 World Cup: England crush Australia by 8 wickets, inch closer to semifinals

Jos Buttler hammered a brutal 32-ball 71 not out to complement a superlative performance from the bowlers as England crushed Australia by eight wickets in their Super 12 match to inch closer to a semifinal spot at the T20 World Cup here on Saturday.

It was a thoroughly professional display by the ODI world champions as they bundled out Australia for 125 and then returned to overhaul the target of 126 in 11.4 overs to consolidate their top position in the Group 1 points table.

Buttler and Jason Roy (22) hammered the Australian bowlers all around the park to amass 66 runs for no loss in the powerplay, the highest by any team so far in the tournament.

Buttler was the most dangerous of the England batters as he slammed five fours and as many sixes during his unbeaten knock, which is the fastest fifty in the tournament till now.

Australia managed to get rid of Roy and Dawid Malan (8) but it made no difference as Jonny Bairstow joined Buttler in sending their opponents on a leather hunt.

Bairstow smashed two sixes off Adam Zampa during his unbeaten 10-ball 16 run innings as England reached 126 for 2 to win the match with 50 balls to spare.

England thus completed a hat-trick of wins, while Australia suffered their first loss of the tournament after beating South Africa and Sri Lanka in their previous two games.

Earlier, Chris Woakes (2/23) and Chris Jordan (3/17) rattled Australia’s top-order by removing opener David Warner (1), Steve Smith (1) and Glenn Maxwell (6) in the first four overs before skipper Aaron Finch (44 off 49 balls) resurrected the innings.

Ashton Agar (20), Pat Cummins (12) and Mitchell Starc (13) then hit some lusty blows at the death to give some respectability to the Australian total.

Woakes was in action early on as he induced a nick from Warner to deal the first blow and then pulled off a sensational catch at mid-on to remove Steve Smith off Jordan’s bowling.

Woakes then trapped Maxwell in front of wicket as Australia slumped to 15 for 3 in 4 overs.

Leg-spinner Adil Rashid (1/19), who had opened the bowling for England, then returned to trap Marcus Stoinis LBW with a googly as Australia were tottering at 21 for 4 in 6.1 overs.

Matthew Wade (18) then joined skipper Finch, taking Australia to 41 for four in 10 overs.

Wade, however, perished in the 12th over after holing out at long-on to Jason Roy off Liam Livingstone.

Finch smashed back-to-back boundaries to cream 10 runs off Tymal Mills, before picking up another boundary off Jordan in the next over.

Agar then exploded in the 17th over as he pulled one from Woakes over deep backward square leg before walloping him for another six over deep midwicket to score 20 runs of the over.

He was back to the pavilion after being caught by Livingstone (1/15).

Cummins then clobbered the first two balls he faced for maximums to give Australia momentum.

But Jordan returned to remove Finch and Cummins in successive balls.

CSK felicitates Neeraj Chopra, presents him Rs 1 crore

Three-time Indian Premier League champions Chennai Super Kings on Sunday honoured Olympic gold medallist


Chopra by presenting him Rs one crore in recognition of his historic feat at the Tokyo Games. A cheque of Rs one crore on behalf of Chennai Super Kings Cricket Limited was presented to the Olympic champion javelin thrower here.

CSK also presented a special jersey with the number 8758 (highlighting his gold medal-winning effort of 87.58m) as a mark of respect to Chopra, who joined Abhinav Bindra as only the second Indian inpidual gold medallist in the Olympics, a press release said.

“The entire nation is proud of Neeraj for his stupendous achievement. By becoming the first Indian to win a medal (gold) in track and field, he has set a benchmark,” CSK CEO K S Viswanathan said.

“He is an inspiration for the next generation. 87.58 is a number that will forever be etched in Indian sporting history and it’s an honour for us to present this special jersey to Neeraj. We wish he brings more glory to the nation.”

After receiving the award and special jersey, the 23-year old Chopra said that the past two months have been an opportunity for him to experience new things and also thanked the CSK management for the support.

“Thank you so much for your support and for the prize. It feels good. I never thought that I’ll get so much love after winning gold. It was completely unexpected and it feels good. Hopefully I’ll work hard and get good results,” he said.

With a throw of 87.58m On August 7 in Tokyo, Chopra became the first Indian to win a gold medal in athletics at the Olympic games.

Pakistan score hat-trick of wins to inch closer to T20 World Cup semifinals

Skipper Babar Azam hit a composed 51 while Asif Ali hit four sixes in the penultimate over as Pakistan completed a hat-trick of victories in the T20 World Cup with a five-wicket win over Afghanistan in a Super 12 Group 2 match, here on Friday.

Skipper Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib’s unbeaten knocks in a splendid rearguard action had steered Afghanistan to a competitive 147 for six after they were gasping at 76 for six.

Pakistan overhauled the target in 19 overs, a victory which consolidated their top spot in the points table and enhanced their semifinal chances with minnows Scotland and Namibia up next for them.

His side needing 24 runs from the last two overs, Asif Ali (25 off 7 balls) finished the job in 19th over, hitting four sixes off Karim Jannat.

Pakistan lost Mohammad Rizwan (8) to Mujeeb Ur Rahman early in their chase but Azam and Fakhar Zaman (30) kept the innings under control with their 63-run stand.

Mujeeb was exceptional upfront for Afghanistan as he conceded only 14 runs in his four-over spell but Pakistan batters scored runs off other bowlers.

World’s top leg-spinner Rashid Khan carried Afghanistan’s hopes but by the time he came to bowl Pakistan had put 72 runs on board in 10 overs.

His magic was on work though as he got rid of Mohammad Hafeez (10) to complete a century of wickets in T20 Internationals.

He gave away only 26 runs in his four overs with most of the Pakistan batters playing him with caution.

Shoaib Malik (19) though launched Rashid for a massive six in his last over in which Azam was dropped by Naveen ul haq. However, the Pakistan skipper was bowled off a googly in the last ball.

Azam’s 47-ball knock had only four shots to the fence as he mostly moved the ball around.

Malik ended up caught behind when he flashed hard on a widish ball from Naveen, giving an easy catch to Mohammad Shahzad. Asif was at the crease and he did not disappoint his side.

Earlier, Pakistan’s expansive attack dominated the proceedings but Nabi (35) and Naib (35) seized the momentum with their big-hearted effort under pressure and prevented it from becoming a one-sided contest.

They added 71 runs in 7.1 overs with 43 coming in the last three overs.

It all started when they creamed 21 runs from the 17th over bowled by Hasan Ali. Together they hit 10 boundaries.

However, initially Shaheen Afridi’s probing yorkers, Haris Rauf’s variation and the control of Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan tested the batters of Afghanistan, who opted to bat.

Pacer Afiridi created pressure on Afghan batters straightaway with his toe-targeting fiery first over and left-arm spinner Wasim followed that up with another tight over upfront.

The dot-ball pressure got the better of Hazratullah Zazai (0), who went after Wasim and ended up giving a catch to Haris Rauf.

Mohammad Shahzad (8) lifted Afridi’s overpitched ball in the cover region to get the first boundary of the team but could not clear the mid-on one ball later to start his walk back to the dug out.

Realising that it will be difficult to score off Afridi, former skipper Asghar Afghan (10) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (10) targeted Wasim and collected 17 runs from his next over, both hitting him for a six each.

However, Afghan’s stay was cut short by Rauf while Gurbaz was sent back by Hasan Ali.

Afghan’s younger brother Jannat (15) came to the crease and together with Najibullah Zadran (22) had the responsibility to keep afloat his side, which was tottering at 39 for four inside Powerplay overs.

It kept getting worse for Afghanistan as neither the runs came at a good pace and they kept losing wickets.

Jannat and Zadran were scalped by Wasim and Shadab respectively, leaving Nabi with a difficult task to put enough runs on the board to defend, which he did with Naib.

( Originally published on Oct 29, 2021 )