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IND vs SA: Off-field issues bring stern challenge for ‘crisis man’ Dravid



Egos, ambitions, power struggle, startling revelations — Indian cricket has seen it all in the last few months and the mess has created a tricky situation for eternal ‘crisis man’, Rahul Dravid who is in South Africa with the “Men in Blue” for his first overseas assignment as head coach.

During his pre-departure press conference ahead of the tour of South Africa, Virat Kohli on Wednesday revealed that he was never asked to stay on as T20 skipper when he informed the board about his decision to relinquish the post, contradicting Sourav Ganguly’s statement which suggested that the star batter was asked to reconsider his decision.

Notably, the former India captain had said that he personally spoke to Kohli when he was deciding to step down as the T20I captain and urged him to carry on with the job but the star batter decided to quit the position.

A day after India Test captain Kohli’s startling revelations on the T20I captaincy saga, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly on Thursday said that he won’t make any additional comments and the matter will be dealt with by the board.

“I have got nothing to say. We will deal with it appropriately, leave it to the BCCI,” Ganguly told media persons in Kolkata.

Nevertheless, the whole captaincy issue has sparked a controversy between the BCCI president and India’s Test skipper and it’s far from being over as people are much divided, especially on social media. The hashtag “ViratVsBCCI” has been trending on social media for the last two days.

Before that press conference, the controversy revolved around the relationship between Virat and Rohit Sharma and now it has become Kohli versus Ganguly. And amid this chaos, cricket has taken a back seat even if the Indian team has reached South Africa for the much-awaited series.

After all the drama that has unfolded in the past week, Indian cricket fans have found themselves feeling sorry for Rahul Dravid. But, the politics of Indian cricket isn’t new for him. Infact, Dravid was one of the central figures during the whole Ganguly-Greg Chappell infamous episode.

And now, the batting legend has the big responsibility on his shoulders to bail Team India out from all the off-field controversies and motivate boys to perform well on the field against the Proteas.

Virat Kohli-led India had terrible outings in the first two matches of the 2021 T20 World Cup and they failed to qualify for the next round of the mega-event. Many cricket experts and ‘pundits’ believe that an insecure dressing room environment was one of the key factors for India’s debacle in that tournament.

According to them, once Kohli decided to relinquish his T20 captaincy before the start of the event, players somehow were not able to concentrate on their job; instead were thinking about the next skipper and their places in the side.

But Dravid, who always believed in work ethics and was a team man to the core during his playing days, will want his boys to concentrate on the job at hand, rather than focusing on other issues.

Whether it was playing as an opener in Test, donning the wicket-keeping gloves in order to give a better balance to the team, leading the side during the turmoil — the Karnataka-born cricketer did everything for the team whenever it was required. And he will want his boys to be ready for all sorts of challenges and opportunities during the South Africa tour.

However, it won’t be an easy task for ‘Mr Dependable’, considering the unavailability of key players due to injuries, selection issues and fragile batting line-up and the tough playing conditions and COVID-19 scare in South Africa.

In India’s glorious cricketing history, South Africa remains the only top cricketing nation where the ‘Men in Blue’ are yet to win a Test series. Yes, the current Proteas cricket team is sort of inexperienced but they will be tough contenders on their home soil.

Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane — the pillars of Indian batting in Test cricket, haven’t been at their best in the last two years and the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje will test the skill and temperament of these seasoned pros.

It will also be interesting to see whether the duo of Kohli and Dravid include struggling Rahane and Pujara in the Playing XI especially when Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari have done well whenever they have got opportunities.

India will also miss the services of Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Ravindra Jadeja, who have been ruled out of the Test series due to injuries. And it won’t be easy to fill the shoes in their absence.

But, the 48-years old’s biggest challenge will be to resolve the conflicts internally. His man management skills will be tested because to win in the Rainbow nation, he needs a happy captain and positive environment in the team.

Dravid — ‘The Wall of Indian Team’ — will have a herculean task to get the best out of his players in ‘final frontier’ South Africa amid all the uncertainties and controversies. And the fans, the biggest stakeholders in cricket, have belief in him.


‘I’m happy here’: Cristiano Ronaldo pledges to continue at Al Nassr in Saudi Pro League




Portugese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has vowed to continue at Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia despite walking away empty handed in this season. The 38-year-old has earmarked the tournament to be among the top five in the world.

Ronaldo, who signed a two and a half year contract with Al Nassr, scored 14 goals in 16 games in the season, with his side standing second behind Al Ittihad in the Saudi Pro league. However, there were speculations about how long will he stay as reports of swap deal with Saudi-owned Newcastle United emerged, who have now qualified for next season’s Champions league.

In an official Saudi Pro League interview, the star footballer revealed:

“I’m happy here, I want to continue here, I will continue here. And in my opinion, if they continue to do the work that they want to do here, for the next five years, I think the Saudi league can be a top five league in the world. I expected to win something this year, but we didn’t, but next year I’m really positive, but next year I’m really positive and confident that things will change and we go in a better way.”

Cristiano Ronaldo suggests he is still adjusting to strange training timings in Saudi Arabia:

Ronaldo also revealed how contrasting the training timings in Europe and Saudi Arabia are, elaborating:

“In Europe, we train more in the morning, but here we train in the afternoon or evening and in Ramadan, we train at 10 at night. So this is strange but as I tell you, these situations are part of an experience, memories. I like to live these moments because you learn with these things.”

With 837 goals in 512 games, Ronaldo is the combined highest goal scorer in history.

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Lionel Messi to leave PSG at the end of the season, confirms club manager Christophe Galtier




Paris Saint Germain superstar Lionel Messi will leave the club at the end of the current season, manager Christophe Galtier confirmed on Thursday. Messi made 74 appearances for PSG in which he scored 32 goals and made 35 assists. In Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain has played 37 matches out of which they have won 27, lost six and drew four.

PSG had acquired Messi’s services two years ago in a record transfer deal after he left FC Barcelona in 2021.

Messi, who’s contract with PSG ends this season, is now being linked with with a move to Saudi Arabia while talk of a return to the Nou Camp has picked up in Spain in recent weeks.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner will play his final match for PSG against Clermont Foot on Saturday.

“I had the privilege of coaching the best player in the history of football,” Galtier said on Thursday. “This will be his last match at the Parc des Princes, and I hope that he will receive the warmest of welcomes.”

Messi’s envious record

In the Spanish La Liga football competition, Lionel Messi has scored 474 goals in 520 matches. In the French Ligue 1, Messi has scored 22 goals in 57 matches.

The 35-year-old while playing for Football Club Barcelona has scored 672 goals in 778 games. While playing for Paris Saint-Germain he has scored 32 goals in 74 matches.

No plan to bring Messi back: Barca president

FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta recently said that the club has re-established good relationships with Argentine legend Lionel Messi, but it would not pay any price to bring him back to the Camp Nou Stadium.

“I have spoken with Leo to somehow redirect the situation that occurred when I had to put the institution ahead of everything, including him, the best player in the world,” said Laporta in a Monday morning TV show.

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Mark Zuckerberg strikes gold against jiu jitsu fighters, posts pictures on Instagram




In the past, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has appeared helpless in front of the US Congress where he has been slapped by fines, and fired 11,000 vulnerable employees after being hit by falling revenues. But outside the business arena where Meta is facing tough competition from TikTok and other rivals, Zuckerberg is a huge mixed martial arts fan.

Contrary to setbacks in the tech sector, the Facebook founder has tasted victory in jiu jitsu.

Striking gold, but in a different arena

  • The billionaire who has trained with UFC fighters, posted pictures after winning jiu jitsu matches for the first time.
  • The billionaire who tried his hand at martial arts, revealed that he won a gold medal in the Gi categroy and a silver medal in the No-GI category.
  • His post on Instagram received comments from UFC featherweight and bantamweight category champions, as well as jiu jitsu hall of fame member Bernardo Faria.

Competitive or short tempered?

  • The entrepreneur turned sportsperson, who also enjoys surfing, was seen getting into a heated argument after losing a contest during the tournament in California as well.
  • On the work front, Zuckerberg’s firm Meta also surprised the markets by bouncing back with strong earnings, after struggling with loss of ad revenue.
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