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Thursday,24-September-2020

International

Virat Kohli named Wisden’s leading cricketer in the world

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India captain Virat Kohli was on Wednesday named the Leading Cricketer in the World and featured in Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, by the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

It was a double delight for Kohli, who will lead India’s World Cup campaign in England later this year, as he was named the best cricketer in the world for an unprecedented third year in a row.

Kohli was also among Jos Buttler and Sam Curran to be listed in Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, a rare accolade which has been eluding him in his career until now.

The India skipper had a fantastic 2018 in which he racked up 2,735 international runs at 68.37 across all formats, more than 700 more than his nearest challenger, England’s Joe Root.

Kohli scored a remarkable 11 centuries in 37 innings, seven of which came on India’s tours of South Africa, England and Australia.

Smriti Mandhana was named the Leading Cricketer in women’s cricket, after the opening batsman amassed 1,291 runs across limited-overs formats, including 13 half-centuries.

Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was named the Leading Twenty20 Cricketer for the second year in a row.

Besides Buttler and Curran, who played key roles in England’s summer campaigns; Rory Burns, Surrey’s championship-winning captain, and Tammy Beaumont, the outstanding player in another successful year for England’s women, were also named among the five cricketers of the year category.

The Cricketer of the Year awards, a tradition of the Almanack first introduced in 1889, recognise excellence of players who have performed in England during the previous summer; a player can win it only once in their lifetime.

The Leading Cricketer of the Year honours are more recent, and serve as a hat tip to international performances, with no restrictions on the number of wins.

International

Was a pretty rusty day: KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik

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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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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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