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Friday,25-September-2020

International

Raina’s absence will leave a big gap in CSK: Albie Morkel

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Former South Africa all-rounder Albie Morkel feels Suresh Raina’s absence in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) will leave a massive gap in the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team and that the franchise would have to make changes in batting order to get their balance right for the tournament starting on Saturday.

Raina, who has played 193 games for CSK, accumulating more than 5,000 runs, last month opted out of IPL due to “personal reasons”. He had travelled with the team to the United Arab Emirates, but has since returned to India in a controversial manner.

“He (Raina) has been a run machine for them and electric in the field, so [his absence] will leave a massive gap,” Morkel told IANS in an exclusive interview. “They (CSK) will probably have to make a few changes now to cover for him and get the balance of the team right.”

Much of the focus on this year’s IPL will be on MS Dhoni as it would be the first time he would take the field after the ICC World Cup in England where India reached the semi-finals. Dhoni has been on a sabbatical since then and on August 15, he announced retirement from international cricket.

Morkel showered praise on Dhoni. “I enjoyed my time at CSK the most. We had six very successful years, but apart from that the group of players really got along. Dhoni was the cornerstone of our success. He is someone who leads by example,” he said. “He is obviously very skillful in what he does, but also has the ability to stay calm under immense pressure. Other players reach their ‘breaking points’ before him. He knows that and takes full advantage of that.”

On South African cricket, the 39-year-old player said that Dean Elgar should lead the Proteas in Test cricket while wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock continues with his leadership duties in the limited-overs format. de Kock, 27, had replaced Faf du Plessis as ODI skipper in January this year. Later, it was announced that de Kock would not be elevated to Test captaincy.

“South Africa don’t have many experienced leaders in the set-up. Aiden Markram has been earmarked for the future, but needs to find stability in his game,” said Morkel who has played one Test, 58 ODIs and 50 T20Is for the Proteas. “My pick would be Elgar. He is a gutsy and established player and has a good cricket brain. He is a perfect guy to guide us through this tough time.”

International

Was a pretty rusty day: KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik

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Dinesh-Karthik

After Kolkata Knight Riders lost their opening IPL encounter against Mumbai Indians by 49 runs here on Wednesday, skipper Dinesh Karthik said that rustiness was the reason behind the defeat.

“I think we had areas to do well with bat and ball. I think it was a pretty rusty day to be honest, I don’t want to get too analytical about it but it’s ok the boys realise where they could have done better,” said Karthik on Star Sports at the end of the match.

The match was played in hot and humid conditions in Abu Dhabi which was a change for a number of key foreign players in the KKR squad like Andre Russell, Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan.

“Couple of guys — (Pat) Cummins and (Eoin) Morgan — just finished their quarantine today. It is hard — playing in the heat and getting used to the conditions. Don’t want to be too analytical, the boys put in a good effort. I haven’t had the conversation about that (regarding tweaking the top order) with Baz (coach Brendon McCullum), will let you know by the next game,” said Karthik.

KKR next face Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday.

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It was all about being ruthless: MI skipper Rohit Sharma

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Rohit Sharma, on Wednesday, returned to his usual, elegant self with a masterful innings to lead Mumbai Indians to a 49-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Rohit scored 80 off 54 as MI scored 195/5. In reply, KKR managed to score 146/9.

Interestingly, this marked MI’s first ever victory in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), having lost all of their matches in 2014 when a part of the group stage was played in the UAE.

“It was only two players from the 2014 squad. It was all about how we executed our plans today, we never let it go. We were in good position throughout the game but it was all about being ruthless, getting as many (runs) as possible. We knew the wicket was good and dew was coming down,” said Rohit in the post-match presentation ceremony in which he was declared Player of the Match.

As the KKR bowlers fumbled with their line and length and gave Rohit short deliveries, the MI captain replied with his trade mark pull shots to deposit the ball over the boundary.

“I back myself to play (the pull shots), love playing it and practiced it quite a bit. Pretty glad it came out well, they were all good (laughs), can’t pick one. I haven’t played a lot of cricket in the last six months time and was looking to spend some time in the middle; it didn’t come out well in the first innings but glad to have done it tonight,” he said.

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On this day: India, under Dhoni, beat Pakistan to win inaugural World T20

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Team-India

It was on this day in 2007 when Team India, led by MS Dhoni, won the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup, defeating Pakistan in a pulsating summit clash which kept the fans, both in the stadium as well as those across television sets, on the edge of their seats till the very last moment.

With one wicket in hand, Pakistan needed six runs from the final four balls at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. Joginder Sharma, who was probably bowling the over of his life, was under immense pressure after giving away seven runs of the first two balls.

Misbah-ul-Haq was at the crease along with Mohammed Asif and all the players in the Pakistani dug-out were on their feet, waiting for Misbah to score the winning shot and celebrate what would have been one of their biggest wins at the international stage.

Amid all the nervousness, Joginder has a long chat with Dhoni who comes all the way down from the wicketkeeper’s end to soothe the medium-pacer.

He takes a deep breath, takes off from his run-up, and bowls a slower delivery outside the off stump. Misbah goes for the scoop shot over short fine-leg. The ball goes straight up in the air and S. Sreesanth takes the catch, a moment because of which his name got etched in the record books.

Thirteen years have passed but still the images of Dhoni lifting the World T20 trophy alongwith his teammates is as fresh as it can get in the memories of cricket fans across the country.

“I will remember this special day till my last breath. It changed the Indian cricket in terms of what followed the next http year. It was a complete team effort through out the tournament,” tweeted Irfan Pathan on Thursday while remembering that day.

India’s journey to the World T20 title was nothing short of a fairytale. A relatively young team, led by a long-haired Dhoni, made it’s way into the last-four riding on famous wins over the likes of South Africa and England who had more T20 experience and were counted among tournament favourites.

And after beating hot favourites Australia in the semifinals, the Men in Blue entered the summit clash with a belief they could achieve something special and leave behind the poor performance in the 50-over World Cup where they had to crash out of the tournament in the initial stages in the West Indies.

After opting to bat, Gautam Gambhir, who had been one of India’s top performers in the tournament, scored 75 runs as Dhoni’s side were limited to 157/5 in their stipulated quota of 20 overs in the finale. The other Indian batsmen fell cheaply and only Rohit Sharma managed to hit some good runs as he made 30 not out.

Yuvraj Singh, the hero from the epic semi-final match against Australia, found it tough to get going and was dismissed for just 14. Skipper Dhoni too departed cheaply for just 6.

During the chase, Pakistan suffered an early blow when Mohammad Hafeez was dismissed in the first over, and Kamran Akmal fell for a duck soon afterwards. The hopes were all but dashed for Shoaib Malik-led side when they lost their skipper and Shahid Afridi. However, Misbah played a blinder of an innings to take his team almost across the finishing line until he went for the scoop down the short fine leg and made Pakistan short of winning the title by just five runs.

Thirteen years have passed since that memorable day and Team India are still in search for their second World T20 title, something which Virat Kohli and boys would desperately want to achieve in the next two years when two flagship T20 tournaments take place.

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