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10 power hitters who can take the World Cup by storm



Dhoni Pandya Chris Gayle Jos Butler
New Delhi, May 15: With just 15 days remaining for the start of the much-awaited 2019 World Cup, all the participating teams are busy getting their combinations right and are preparing themselves mentally and physically for the showpiece event.

It can be predicted without a doubt that the World Cup that starts on May 30 will be a high-scoring affair where teams would be posting gigantic totals on batting-friendly England pitches in the second half of summer. Thus, almost all teams will rely on their power hitters to come to their own and score big in the prestigious quadrennial event.

IANS takes a look at the top 10 power hitters who could play crucial roles in the showpiece event and take centre-stage:

Jos Buttler (England)

Jason Roy a couple of days back said this batsman can demoralise teammates with his hitting abilities which sums it all. Buttler has been one of the most destructive batsmen at the death in recent times. Since the 2015 World Cup, he strikes at 181.2 in the last 10 overs, more than any player in the final phase of an innings.

In the second ODI against Pakistan, Buttler scored century of just 50 balls. In fact two of the fastest centuries for England have been scored by Buttler. He has a 360 degree hitting zone and that makes him a difficult customer for bowlers.

Jonny Bairstow (England)

The wicketkeeper-batsman from England has been in ominous form in the last two years. Bairstow not only has the ability to play big shots, but he also knows how to rotate strike and keep the scoreboard ticking.

His power-hitting was in full display during the IPL where he scored 442 runs in 10 matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

In 62 ODIs he has played so far for England, Bairstow has scored 2297 runs at a strike rate of over 106.

Andre Russell (West Indies)

Andre Russell is one of the hardest hitters of the ball among the contemporary batsmen. Like Virender Sehwag and Adam Gilchrist, Russell can inflict fear in any bowler. His ability to hit the ball a long way is not an unheard story anymore.

In the just concluded IPL, Russell was in tremendous form as he singlehandedly won many games for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). He amassed 510 runs in the 14 matches at a breath-taking strike rate of 204.

For sure, all teams will make special plans for Russell when they face the West Indies in the World Cup.

Chris Gayle (West Indies)

The big hitting Jamaican is one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket. He has been in great form in the recent times. In 2019, Gayle has scored 424 runs in five ODIs, which include two centuries and a highest of 162.

In the just concluded IPL, Gayle scored 490 runs in the 13 matches he played for Kings XI Punjab. He smacked 34 sixes and had a strike rate of over 150 in this IPL edition.

What makes Gayle a terror for the bowlers is his ability to clear any boundary despite having a technique that has its flaws.

Hardik Pandya (India)

Hardik is the seaming all-rounder India had been looking for ages. Not only can he bowl those crucial overs in the middle overs and pick wickets, he can hit the ball really hard and score maximums on any ground across the world.

Although he hasn’t featured in many successful chases, but his 76 off 46 against Pakistan in Champions Trophy final and a match-winning 83 off 66 against Australia in Chennai are some of the highlights of his career so far.

His recent form has been outstanding as he scored 402 runs in the 16 matches he played for Mumbai Indians in this edition of the IPL. Also, he has now added M.S. Dhoni’s famous helicopter shot to his arsenal, thus bringing more variety to his batting.

The 25-year-old, who has an overall strike rate of 116 in ODIs, has matured enough to understand what the situation demands of him and has been a regular fixture in all formats for India.

M.S. Dhoni (India)

The former India skipper is not only one of the greatest finishers in the game but also holds the distinction of being one of the most clean hitters of the cricket ball. Dhoni, time and again, has proved that no one is better than him when playing in the death overs.

He might be 37, but his fitness and agility makes him one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket. His recent form has also been great as he scored the bulk of the runs in the ODI series in Australia and England which India won comfortably.

In IPL 2019, people got to once again witness the vintage Dhoni on many occasions as he collected runs towards the end of the innings in numerous matches and single-handedly won games for the Chennai Super Kings.

If Dhoni continues with his tremendous form, chances of India clinching their third World Cup title will improve by leaps and bounds.

David Warner (Australia)

The swashbuckling Australian opener has been on a roll ever since he has returned to international cricket post serving his one-year ban for ball tampering. Warner won the Orange Cap in IPL 2019, scoring 692 runs in the 12 matches he played for the Sunrisers.

Short in stature, this big hitting Aussie has the ability to make any bowler have a run for his money. He, alongwith Steve Smith, will be one of Australia’s main weapon when they begin their title defence in England.

David Miller (South Africa)

The 29-year-old South Africa batsman, on his day, can tear apart any bowling attack. Miller not only has the game suited against pacers but is also one of the few Proteas batsmen who can score big against spinners as well.

His overall strike rate in ODIs hovers around 100, making him a serious threat for the opposition. However, his recent form has not been great and he has struggled to middle the ball, a cause of concern for Faf du Plessis going into the World Cup.

Colin Munro (New Zealand)

Munro holds the distinction of being one of the most powerful hitters in the game of cricket at the moment. When on song, this big hitting left hander can be absolutely ruthless and can score against any opposition.

Munro, who has been scoring big for New Zealand in T20s, has an overall strike rate of 105.5 in 50 ODI matches he has played for the Black Caps. He is predominantly a leg-side player and whenever he gets the ball in his arc, more often than not, he makes sure that it reaches the fence.

Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan)

The left-handed batsman has been in the limelight ever since his brilliant century in the Champions Trophy 2017 final against India, which saw Pakistan lift the trophy for the very first time. The 29-year-old, who holds the record for being the only Pakistani batsman to score a double century in ODIs, is one of Pakistan’s batting mainstays and has been among the runs in the recent past.

Zaman has scored 1585 runs in 34 ODIs he has played for Pakistan with a strike rate of 97.83.

He made a strong statement before the World Cup by scoring a 84-ball hundred in the second ODI against England in Southampton and rang warning bells for the opposition teams.


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Pompeo meets Qureshi, lauds Pak’s efforts for Afghan peace




mike pompeo

Washington, Jan 18 Visiting Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here, during which the latter lauded Islamabad’s efforts for a political and peaceful solution to help resolve the Afghan conflict.

Qureshi is on the final leg of his tri-state visit aimed at diffusing US-Iran tensions, as instructed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Besides the Afghan peace process, Qureshi and Pompeo on Friday also exchanged views on matters pertaining to Pakistan-US bilateral cooperation and regional security situation, reports The News International.

Qureshi, who earlier called on the US to remain engaged in Afghanistan’s reconstruction even after withdrawal of its troops, informed the top US diplomat that Pakistan would continue its efforts for political solution to the Afghan conflict.

“Pakistan is fulfilling this joint responsibility for the Afghan peace process with sincerity of intent,” he said.

In response, Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s “sincere efforts” for the Afghan reconciliation and peace process and a peaceful neighbourhood.

During the talks, Qureshi also briefed Pompeo about discussions held during his recent visits to Iran and Saudi Arabia.

He said that Pakistan desird peace and stability and was determined to play its role to defuse prevailing tensions in the region, Dawn news reported.

The Minister also underlined the need for strengthening bilateral trade and investment “in order to give a practical shape to Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Donald Trump’s vision of comprehensive bilateral Pakistan-US relations”.

The US was the last leg of Qureshi’s three nation trip after visiting Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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Those opposing CAA, NPR should come together: Chidambaram



P Chidambaram

Kolkata, Jan 18 : Urging all parties opposing CAA and NPR to come together, the Congress on Saturday extended the olive branch to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and other leaders who skipped January 13 Delhi deliberations hoping they would turn up in some other meeting that might be convened on the twin issues.

“For the sake of the country, all parties which are opposing the CAA and NPR should come together… What is at stake are far more important issues… One shouldn’t miss the larger picture.

“The larger picture is we are fighting to save the Constitution of India, we are fighting to save the enduring values embodied in th cConstitution of India. So all those who fight for these values must eventually come together on one platform. And I am confident, they will,” Congress Working Committee member P. Chidambaram told media.

Apart from Banerjee, Samajwadi Party, DMK and the BSP did not attend, while Shiv Sena and the AAP said they were not invited for the meeting convened by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

Chidambaram said Gandhi made an attempt to invite as many parties as possible, and 20 of them participated.

“Some did not. That doesn’t mean that is the final word. Maybe there well be another meeting, maybe they will attend. What is important is we are fighting, not that we are fighting together always. But fighting separately is also fighting, fighting together is also fighting,” he said.

“The fact is we are trying to build a united opposition to the CAA and NPR. We have succeeded substantially. Some parties are fighting separately. Hopefully, some day they will all come on a united platform,” he said.

Asked whether the Congress would invite to future meetings leaders like Banerjee who stayed away from Monday’s deliberations, Chidambaram said he was certain invitations will go out.

“If somebody asks my view, I’ll say of course we send an invitation. What is the harm? I invite you to my house once, you do not come. That doesn’t mean I don’t invite you again,” he said.

To repeated queries about the lack of unity of the anti-CAA parties in Bengal, Chidambaram said: “In Bengal or in any other state, there are some domestic factors at play. Purely intra-state factors, though the big picture should not be missed”.

He pointed out that the Congress was working with the Left parties in the state, and they were carrying on the movement together at the district level too.

On questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi sending an invite to his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan, Chidambaram said it only means the government has modified its earlier position “about no engagement with Pakistan”.

He disagreed with a scribe who said that many parties now find the Congress unreliable”.

“In the last Lok Sabha election, 19 per cent Indians relied on the Congress and voted for it. The Congress also got votes in the recent assembly polls in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand.

“But I do admit, we need to do more, we need to get more people on our side. But that doesn’t mean nobody relies on us,” he added.

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PDP leader Altaf Bukhari dares Congress’s Azad to prove charges




Ghulam Nabi Azad

Srinagar, Jan 18 : Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Minster Altaf Bukhari, here on Saturday, dared senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to prove his allegations against him or quit Parliament on moral grounds.

Reacting to media reports in which Azad had been quoted as saying that some Congress leaders were being threatened to join the “Third Front” or face false cases, Bukhari said it was unfortunate that a leader like Azad was playing cheap politics.

In a press statement Bukhari said, “I hold Azad in high esteem, but it’s unfortunate that he has made baseless allegations against me and my colleagues, stooping this low for doing petty politics.”

Bukhari said he neither held power nor was in a position to misuse the state machinery or agencies, as used to be done during the Congress-led regimes in J&K.

“I have reiterated that I am joined by some friends, colleagues and well-wishers of J&K to raise and address the sufferings caused to the people by whosoever has been at the helm of affairs in J&K and in the Centre,” Bukhari said.

He said several senior Congress leaders were in touch with him, but there was no question of coercing them or extending any favour as had been alleged by Azad. “Many Congress leaders share the same vision, passion and motivation to serve people in their own capacities and are coming forward for that,” he said.

The remark by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha had exposed Azad’s respect for his party colleagues in J&K, whom he termed imprudent to take any decision on their own, Bukhari said.

“The Congress style of politics is over. There is no question of forcing anybody or extending any facilities to someone to garner his/her support for a sacred cause. Yes, Azad is right in his saying that he has run the government and knows about those tricks.

“But let me remind him that the era of manipulations and political manoeuvring is over. I and my friends want the people to get rid of this type of politics. People know everything. My colleagues and friends in the Congress are not politically naive that anybody could take them for a ride,” the PDP leader said.

Some leaders who represented people in J&K House had come together to resolve the injustice committed to the people on August 5, 2019, he said.

“Why the efforts in this direction — for restoration of some of achievable rights — have send shivers down the spine of Congress leadership,” Bukhari said.

Azad was unable to find any fault with his memorandum to the Lieutenant Governor and was trying to malign his own colleagues who came forward to safeguard the people’s interests, Bukhari said.

The PDP leader said the people remembered the communal politics of 2008, causing death and destruction in J&K, and added, the people also remembered the self-centred and despicable laws, like the Roshni Act, that favoured their blue eyed acquaintances at the cost of state.

“Instead of finding faults in others, the Congress leadership, including Azad, should do self-analysis and soul-searching and see how the party is responsible for death, destruction and disintegration of J&K in the last 72 years,” Bukhari said.

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