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Saturday,17-April-2021

National

Batsmen’s lack of game-time big challenge for CSK

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Chennai-Super-Kings

The 2020 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) could have marked the end of an era for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) as they failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their history. They struggled to get any momentum throughout the season and were one of the first teams to fall out of contention in a league stage that went down to the last week of matches.

However, CSK did not hit the panic button and made wholesale changes to their team. They added a few new faces while sticking to their core of captain MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayudu and Imran Tahir.

An inability to score runs in the powerplay and the middle overs was one of the many factors that led to CSK’s downfall last season. While the return of Raina in the top order is a major boost, CSK could also push England all-rounder Moeen Ali, who they acquired for Rs 7 crore this year, to the top of the order along with Ruturaj Gaikwad.

Moeen’s prowess as a T20 top-order batsman has been on display a number of times in England’s T20 Blast. Gaikwad, meanwhile, scored back-to-back half centuries last season and is hence expected to continue opening the batting for CSK.

This leaves a question mark over Faf du Plessis, who was the shining light for CSK’s lacklustre batting lineup last season while also being a vital cog in the field.

Du Plessis intends to make the most out of whatever opportunities he is going to get to play T20 cricket, as evidenced by his retirement from Test cricket in February. This means that there could be a battle between Du Plessis and Moeen at the top of the order for CSK.

While the rest of the batting order is somewhat settled, the problem that would be worrying the CSK management would be the lack of game-time for some of their players. The only competitive cricket that Raina has played since the 2019 IPL was the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, in which he scored 102 runs in five matches.

Dhoni has not played any cricket since last year’s IPL while Ravindra Jadeja has not played since injuring his thumb during India’s tour of Australia in January. Sam Curran is the only player in the CSK middle-order who has been playing regular cricket this year.

The presence of Moeen gives CSK another spin bowling option to go with Imran Tahir. Bravo remains potent in the death overs, having done so for West Indies against Sri Lanka in their recent home T20I series while Curran would also slot in. Shardul Thakur has been one of the Indian players who took international cricket by storm and would be a potent weapon in the CSK bowling line-up.

Batting coach Michael Hussey said the fact that CSK are starting their campaign at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai will help the three-time champions.

“The conditions at Wankhede are generally very good for both batmen and bowlers, so hopefully we can start well and players can feel good about their game. A good start would be nice because the players will then relax and hopefully play their best cricket with confidence. Otherwise, the pressure can build up on everyone involved,” said the former Australia batsman.

“Moeen is an excellent all-rounder, Robin has a lot of experience and has been a quality performer in the past and Gowtham has some genuine talent that we can look to develop further,” said Hussey.

Full squad: MS Dhoni (Captain/wicketkeeper), Suresh Raina, Narayan Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, KM Asif, Karn Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar, Faf du Plessis, Shardul Thakur, Mitchell Santner, Dwayne Bravo, Lungi Ngidi, Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Imran Tahir, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, M.Harisankar Reddy, K.Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishaanth, R Sai Kishore

Coaching Staff: Stephen Fleming (head coach), Mike Hussey (batting coach), L Balaji (bowling coach), Eric Simons (bowling consultant), Rajiv Kumar (fielding coach)

Quote on the 2021 season:

I feel we have a very balanced squad that has most bases covered and with depth in most areas. The guys are in really good spirits and have been and are preparing extremely well — Michael Hussey, CSK batting coach

National

Buoyant RCB take on KKR

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Royal-Challengers-Bangalore

After winning two out of their first two matches, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) would look to make it three out of three when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their next encounter at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday afternoon.

Spin will be a crucial weapon again for RCB as KKR showed their inability to cope with spin in their previous match against Mumbai Indians, giving away four wickets to leg-spinner Rahul Chahar.

RCB left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed played a crucial role on a sticky pitch in the match against SunRisers Hyderabad as he made the ball turn and forced the SRH batsmen to throw away their wickets.

With KKR also possessing a very strong spin bowling line-up, the performance of spinners from the two sides could very well decide the course of Sunday’s first match.

This will also be the first match of this season to be played in the afternoon and have a 3.30 p.m. start. Naturally, the dew factor will not come into play.

On the contrary, the latter part of the match could see the ball swing as the temperature dips.

RCB skipper Virat Kohli, who has got identical scores of 33 (29 balls) in the first two matches, will look to get his first half-century of the season.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see KKR captain Eoin Morgan, who employed his spinners to bowl five of the first six overs against MI, use spin early against the opening duo of Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal, both of whom relish the ball coming onto the bat.

Squads:
KKR: Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert (wicketkeeper), Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Eoin Morgan (captain), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Varun CV, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer, Pawan Negi.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), Devdutt Padikkal, Finn Allen (wicket-keeper), AB de Villiers (wicket-keeper), Pavan Deshpande, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Daniel Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, K.S. Bharat.

Match starts at 3.30 p.m.

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National

BCCI assured of visas to Pak team, media for T20 World Cup

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BCCI

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has got the approval for visas for the Pakistan cricket team as well as the media for the upcoming T20 World Cup that will be held in India in October-December, it was announced at BCCI’s Apex Council meeting on Friday.

However, this wouldn’t yet break the deadlock between the Indian and Pakistan cricket boards.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani had earlier said that they are looking for visas for not just the players and the media but also for their fans. A failure on that count from the Indian board will push them into asking the International Cricket Council (ICC) to host the tournament in UAE.

The Apex Council, however, was apprised that the Union home ministry will decide on giving visas to Pakistan fans, it has been learnt.

There had been very little doubt earlier on Pakistan cricket team getting visa. The BCCI had given enough indications. The bone of contention, however, had been visas to media and fans which the Pakistan board had demanded.

While there has been a thaw in political relations between the two countries in recent times which has led to some Pakistan sportspersons arriving in India and competing, letting in Pakistan fans for the T20 World Cup could also depend on the Covid-19 situation in the country at the time.

Sports events haven’t seen overseas spectators since the pandemic began and recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo Olympic Games organisation committee have decided on not allowing overseas spectators to the Olympic Games which begin on July 23 this year.

With rising Covid-19 cases in India, it is unlikely a decision on fans will be taken any time soon by the ministry.

As many as 14 items were discussed in the Apex Council meeting.

One of the items (Item No. 13) concerned inclusion of cricket in Los Angeles Olympic Games.

The Board hasn’t yet reached a decision on it yet, though in principle they have agreed to sending a team to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Further discussions will be done with the Indian Olympic Association.

Among other issues discussed was the status of the new National Cricket Academy premises (Item No. 6 on the agenda), the 2021-22 domestic cricket season (Item No. 9) and the organisation of T20 leagues tournaments by Tamil Nadu, Mumbai, Karnataka and Saurashtra.

While it has been learnt that the council was told the 2021-22 domestic cricket tournaments will happen as they have happened in the past on schedule, a final decision will be made later going by the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the country.

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National

I had tears when Zak sir called my name: MI’s Yudhvir Charak

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Yudhvir-Charak

Mumbai Indians pace bowler Yudhvir Singh Charak says he had tears flowing down his cheeks the moment bowling head coach Zaheer Khan “raised the paddle” after his name was called during the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction on February 18 this year.

“I knew that if my name came up, it would be among the last names. If not, I was okay with it. We all were sitting; me, my family, our eyes fixed on the television. Then, when my name came up and when Zak sir (Zaheer Khan) raised the paddle, tears started flowing down my cheeks,” recalled Charak in a video posted by Mumbai Indians on Twitter.

“I can’t express how unbelievable that feeling was. It (MI selection) was a really big deal for me and for my state (Jammu and Kashmir). They (J&K team-mates) had very high hopes that I will play a match and do well take our state to new heights,” said the right-arm bowler, who was with the team as a support bowler in UAE.

Charak, who has represented Hyderabad in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and competed in several age-group tournaments, was picked at a base price of Rs 20 lakh.

MI team manager Rahul Sanghvi said that, “We are always good at picking uncapped players with talent, which we have done this year as well by choosing Yudhvir and Arjun (Tendulkar). Both were part of our support players group in the IPL in UAE. The coaches were satisfied that these guys will fulfil the role we were looking at and we picked them.”

Zaheer said, “So, we have Yudhvir, who we are looking forward to. This environment has been benefiting everyone who has been part of it. We encourage them to enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the moment and learn as they go along.”

For Charak, it is more about learning from a team that has won five IPL titles than anything else. “This is the start of my careerat a high level. I’ll get to learn a lot from the senior players. They would have selected me with some role in mind. So, I want to do the best for my team. And learn as best as I can. They are the five-time IPL champions.”

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