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Imran Tahir backs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, calls him an inspiration




At a time when M.S. Dhoni is drawing a lot of flak for his on field behaviour with the umpires during an IPL game, his Chennai Super Kings teammate Imran Tahir backs the under-fire captain, saying he is a great leader, human being and an inspiration.

“He has been a great leader and a great human being. He is always there to help,” Tahir said at the state launch of MS Dhoni Cricket Academy.

“That’s what motivates me to join the academy to help the kids. I learn from him and he is a great inspiration,” said the 40-year-old South African leg-spinner.

Dhoni was fined 50 per cent of his match fee after the former India captain lost his cool and rushed into the field to confront Indian umpire Ulhas Gandhe after he flip-flopped on a no ball on Thursday night during CSK’s encounter with Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur.

Former cricketers came down heavily on India’s two-time World Cup winning captain, saying Dhoni’s act set a wrong precedent.

Asked if Dhoni is setting the right example for the budding cricketers, some of whom will also be part of this academy, Tahir refused to comment.

“No answer, I am really sorry for that.”

Tahir was also effusive in praise for fast rising India chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, saying he rates the 24-year very highly.

“I rate him very highly. He is a very good spinner and is doing really well in world cricket.”

About South Africa’s chances in the World Cup starting May 30, Tahir said he is hopeful of a positive outcome.

“I am going to back my team to do well, obviously.”

The MS Dhoni academy has a total of 17 branches in India, Singapore and Dubai.

This will be 17th branch, located in Salt Lake area of the city. There will be second branch coming up soon in Basirhat, a municipality in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, the organisers said.

The trials are currently underway in the age category of 7-19.

“The focus of the academy will be on mental toughness and not only honing cricketing skills which has always been Dhoni’s forte,” said head coach of the academy Satrajit Lahiri, a former Ranji Trophy player.

“We are going to sponsor underprivileged children too,” he added.

“All their academies are based in small towns keeping in mind Dhoni’s background coming from Ranchi.”

Tahir was quizzed how will he find time for the academy keeping in mind his international and other commitments throughout the year.

“Even though I have not announced myself globally as part of the academy, after the World Cup I am free. Even if I have to come to India or go to any place to help the academy, I am free to come,” he said.

“I always try to help the youngsters whenever I can. Wherever I go to play I try to guide the kids.”


Dhoni won so many trophies because of Ganguly’s hardwork, feels Gautam Gambhir




Former India captain M.S. Dhoni was lucky in the way that he inherited teams consisting of great players when he took over the Indian captaincy in all formats of the game, according to former batsman Gautam Gambhir.

As Test captain, Dhoni is credited with being the first to lead India to the top of the Test rankings and Gambhir said that it is because of fast bowler Zaheer Khan that the team managed to be so successful.

“The reason Dhoni became such a successful captain in Test cricket is because of Zaheer Khan. He was a big blessing that Dhoni got, for which credit goes to Sourav Ganguly. According to me, Zaheer has been India’s best world-class bowler,” Gambhir said on the Star Sports show Cricket Connected.

The 38-year-old was involved in two of India’s greatest achievements during Dhoni’s captaincy — the 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 World Cup wins.

“Dhoni has been a very lucky captain because he got an amazing team in every format. Captaining 2011 World Cup team was very easy for Dhoni because we had players like Sachin, Sehwag, Myself, Yuvraj, Yusuf, Virat, so he had got the best teams, while Ganguly had to work very hard for it, and as a result, Dhoni won so many trophies,” said Gambhir.

He had earlier lashed out at those only celebrating M.S. Dhoni’s six to win the 2011 World Cup, saying it was won by the entire team and not just one hit. India lifted the World Cup on this day nine years ago.

“Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lift the World Cup after 28 years!” these were Ravi Shastri’s words after Dhoni led India to a win in the 2011 World Cup final at the Wankhede Stadium with a humongous six off Sri Lanka pacer Nuwan Kulasekara.

ESPNcricinfo had tweeted “the shot that sent millions of Indians into jubilation” with a photo of the moment.

Gambhir, in his reply, said: “Just a reminder @ESPNcricinfo: #worldcup2011 was won by entire India, entire Indian team & all support staff. High time you hit your obsession for a SIX.”

The stylish left-hander had scored 97 while Dhoni, who had promoted himself to No 4, smashed an unbeaten 91 as India won by six wickets.

“A World Cup won by Indians, for India & with India!” Gambhir later tweeted.

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Azam has necessary skills to reach Kohli’s level, says Aakash Chopra



Former India cricketer Aakash Chopra feels Pakistan’s white-ball skipper Babar Azam has the ability to reach the level of India captain Virat Kohli.

The two modern-day greats are time and again pitted against each other, by fans and critics alike, for their impeccable playing styles and incredible consistency.

Chopra stated that Azam is an incredible talent but it will take time for him to reach that level where Kohli has been operating for a very long time now.

“Babar Azam is an exciting talent. There is no doubt about that. It is also true that Virat Kohli is very far ahead in this race. He is older and started cricket before Azam. Virat’s name is already included in the conversation of all-time greats,” Chopra told former Pakistan cricketer Tanvir Ahmed on the latter’s YouTube channel ‘Tanveer Says’.

“Azam has the necessary skills to reach that level. But the real question is whether he will be able to reach those heights as it depends on many things such as discipline, injuries, form and several other factors which will come along as time moves on.

“Talent can only take you to a place but you ought to have that incredible passion that drives you forward. Virat did not have that from the start but gained it along the way,” he added.

Azam, recently, had addressed such comparisons with Kohli and had said that he would rather like to be compared with some of the top-class batsmen that have donned the jersey of Pakistan in the past.

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ATK Mohun Bagan holds international potential, says Nita Ambani




Nita Ambani, Founder & Chairperson, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), welcomed legendary Indian football club Mohun Bagan into the Indian Super League family on Friday.

The 130-year old football club on Friday completed the formalities of merging with three-time ISL champions ATK FC, thus scripting a new essay in Indian football named as – ‘ATK Mohun Bagan’.

“We are delighted on the merger of ATK and Mohun Bagan, the two powerhouses of Indian football. I whole-heartedly welcome Mohun Bagan, one of India’s oldest and most renowned club, to the Indian Super League and congratulate Sanjiv Goenka for embracing the I-League champions with open arms,” said Ambani.

The FSDL chairperson believes that the combined power of ATK and MB will further enable India to establish its stronghold in AFC competitions.

“The coming together of these two heavyweights marks a momentous chapter in the history of Indian sports. The new entity, ‘ATK Mohun Bagan FC’, holds vast potential for not just West Bengal or Indian football but internationally too, as we endeavour to establish Indian clubs as strong players in AFC competitions.”

A firm believer in investing in youth development, Nita Ambani is of the opinion that ATK Mohun Bagan will lead the way towards a more competitive platform for young Indian players, benefitting the overall football ecosystem in the country.

“Talent can only be realised when budding youngsters get the opportunity and exposure to play competitive football at the highest levels. I am confident that this partnership will benefit football in our country and help us realise our dream of making India a football superpower.

“I wish the management of ATK Mohun Bagan FC, the players and the staff all the very best for what promises to be an exciting journey ahead,” Ambani added.

The board of ATK-Mohun Bagan on Friday decided to retain the green and maroon jersey which has been synonymous with the legacy of iconic Mohun Bagan football club.

The name of the club will be changed to ATK Mohun Bagan while the logo will have the Mohun Bagan boat with addition of ‘ATK’ to it, a statement said.

ATK-Mohun Bagan also said it has plans to build a world-class football academy in Bengal and to refurbish the existing Mohun Bagan facility so that ISL and AFC home games are held there.

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