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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.”


Best save ever seen in my life: Sachin Tendulkar on Pooran’s fielding effort




Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar was full of praise for Nicholas Pooran after the West Indian came out with a stunning fielding effort during Kings XI Punjab’s crushing defeat by Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 clash at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

In the eighth over of Rajasthan Royals’ chase of 224, Sanju Samson played a pull shot off Murugan Ashwin and it was then that Pooran, standing at deep mid-wicket, dived full length over the rope to catch the ball. The West Indian caught the ball while hanging in the air and realising that he wouldn’t be able to come inside the boundary line, he threw the ball — all while being in air — back inside the boundary line to save his team vital six runs.

“This is the best save I have seen in my life. Simply incredible!!” Tendulkar tweeted during the match on Sunday.

Responding to the praise from the batting legend, Kings XI fielding coach and one of the greatest fielders the game has ever seen, Jonty Rhodes said: “When the God of Cricket Sachin Tendulkar says it is, then there really is no question about it being the best save, ever.”

“Fantastic work by Nicholas Pooran who inspired the rest of the Kings XI Punjab fielders to put on 1 of the best defensive fielding displays I have ever seen #proudcoach,” he added.

Cricketer-turned-commentator Ian Bishop also praised Pooran and said: “Nicholas Pooran has just pulled off one of the great saves in the game of cricket. Unbelievable awareness.”

However, Pooran’s effort couldn’t help the Kings XI win the match as Rajasthan Royals pulled off the highest chase in IPL history, winning the match by four wickets.

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Dube not the right choice for RCB to bowl at the death: Irfan Pathan




Former India fast bowler Irfan Pathan believes Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) should avoid bowling Shivam Dube at the death in the upcoming matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

RCB have so far played two matches in the tournament. In the first match, they registered a 10-run win against SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) while in the next game, the Virat Kohli-led side suffered a crushing 97-run defeat against Kings XI Punjab.

“Look, I think they will get better as soon as Chris Morris comes in. I see Morris coming in, (Dale) Steyn going out and they are settled. What I don’t want from RCB is Shivam Dube bowling the death overs,” said Pathan while speaking on Star Sports show Cricket Connected ahead of RCB’s clash against Mumbai Indians to be played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Monday evening.

“They have a better team, they have better batsmen comparatively. They are not just dependent on AB de Villiers or Virat Kohli. This year they have Aaron Finch as well, (Devdutt) Paddikal started very well,” he added.

According to the former India all-rounder, Navdeep Saini should bowl a minimum of two overs at the death as “he’s the guy who can nail those yorkers as well as he can just bluff the batsmen and bowl bouncers at the death as well”.

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Don’t compare Samson with Dhoni: Gautam Gambhir, Sreesanth




While all the limelight was taken away by Rahul Tewatia during Rajasthan Royals’ historic win over Kings XI Punjab, it was the incredible innings from Sanju Samson which laid the platform for the Steve Smith-led side during their chase at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Samson scored 85 runs as Royals chased down the target of 224 — highest ever in history of the Indian Premier League — with four wickets in hand and three balls to spare. His 42-ball knock was studded with four 4s and seven 6s.

Taking note of Samson’s innings on Sunday, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said on Twitter: “What an absolutely incredible win for Rajasthan Royals! I’ve known Sanju Samson for a decade and told him when he was 14 that he would one day be the next MS Dhoni. Well, that day is here. After his two amazing innings in this IPL, you know a world-class player has arrived.”

However, Gautam Gambhir and S Sreesanth don’t want the 25-year-old to be compared with the former India captain.

“Sanju Samson doesn’t need to be next anyone. He will be ‘the’ Sanju Samson of Indian cricket,” tweeted Gambhir replying to Tharoor.

“He is not next Dhoni, he is Sanju Samson the one and only. He should have been playing from 2015 regularly in all formats. Please don’t compare him, if he had given right opportunities then, he would have been playing like this for India and would have won World Cups,” said Sreesanth while replying to the Congress MP.

“I am sure he will still keep playing well and it’s not just these two innings…He is gonna break a lot of records too and win many more world cups for our country. So please don’t compare him to anyone…he is an amazing Malayali from our Gods own country. His best is yet to come,” he added.

The right-handed batsman had scored 74 runs off just 32 deliveries in Royals’ first match of IPL 2020 which his side won against Chennai Super Kings by 16 runs.

Rajasthan Royals brand ambassador Shane Warne had praised Samson and said it was shocking to see that a talent like Samson is not a part of Team India across all formats.

“I have said for a long time and I think Sanju Samson is probably one of the most exciting players I have seen for a long time. I am surprised that he is not playing all forms of cricket for India,” Warne had said in an Instagram live session done by the Royals before Sunday’s game.

“He is that good. He is an absolute champion, he has got all the shots, quality and class. So, hopefully he has a consistent year and helps Rajasthan Royals lift the IPL trophy and I hope to see in him Indian colours in all three forms of cricket,” he had added.

Samson has so far represented India in just four T20Is in which he has amassed 35 runs in total.

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