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Dhoni being dropped akin to MeToo fire in cricket board

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni (File Photo)

New Delhi, Oct 27: The national cricket selectors sparked a bigger conflagration than the raging ‘MeToo fire engulfing Indian Cricket Board CEO Rahul Johri by quietly sending a ‘thank you note to Mahendra Singh Dhoni by dropping him from the Twenty20 squad.

Stranger things have happened in Indian cricket, but what we are witnessing now is becoming a farce with the two members in the Committee of Administrators (CoA) differing diametrically over addressing the allegation of sexual harassment levelled against Johri by an unidentified lady while they were colleagues in an organisation before he joined the board.

The jury is still out as opinion is divided over the modalities of probing Johri’s alleged indiscretion. CoA chief Vinod Rai rightly feels Johri should be given an opportunity to present his case before an independent inquiry committee while the other member Diana Edulji, former captain of India women’s team, is equally firm in wanting him to go even if it mean a summary sack.

Why did the CoA chief, board members and its affiliated state association, who run to the Supreme Court on every pretext, not bother to restore the four-member committee to full strength after two of its original members quit within months of their appointment for different reasons.

The board itself is divided as to how it should treat Johri. At least seven of its units, including Amit Shah-headed Gujarat, want Johri sacked as they are actually miffed at his appointment on what they resent as an obscene pay package.

They are also unhappy that their paid employee has usurped their powers without even being answerable to them under the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee recommendations to revamp the board’s administration.

Be that as it may, cricketing activities are going on smoothly. The national selection committee, headed by Mannava Sri Kanth Prasad, is going about picking teams and the senior players have established a direct channel of communication with the CoA.

But then, how did the selectors handle the Dhoni issue? Did they take the great man into confidence to tell the world that they are bringing down the curtain on his Twenty20 career? It does not appear they have thought of such niceties.

None of the selectors might have remembered that in his last Twenty20 game at Bristol, Dhoni created two world records, becoming the first wicketkeeper to take five catches in a Twenty20 international and also the first man to effect 50 dismissals in the shortest format.

Prasad’s explanation that there are six Twenty20s coming up in about a month and Dhoni won’t be playing and that they want to look at the second wicket-keeper between Rishab Pant, who appears to have come to stay in all three formats, and, lo and behold, Dinesh Karthik.

Prasad could have as well allowed Dhoni to take the call as there won’t be anything left between the tour of Australia and the 2019 World Cup, which by all accounts is going to be his last major assignment in India colours, having retired from Test cricket in 2014.

Dhoni could have been given the opportunity of creating another record, statistically! He made his ODI debut in December 2004 at Chittagong and a year later played his first Test against Sri Lanka in Chennai, again in December.

Curiously, he made his Twenty20 debut also in the month of December, in Johannesburg in 2006 and he played his last Test in December, 2014 – and none of the players who who turned out in his debut Test was there.

If he had gone to Australia next month, he would not have ended his Twenty20 international career in December as the three-match series would have ended on November 25 and it is highly improbable he would wait till next December to play his last Twenty20 international!

Among the top international cricketers who are his contemporaries are Alastair Cook, who called it a day after the Oval Test against India last month, and AB De Villers, who has also decided to quit after playing in what he called fantastic series against India and Australia earlier in this year.

Dhoni will be remembered more fondly than most of his contemporaries as he captained India to victories in the 2007 World Twenty20, 2011 50-over World Cup and also took India to the pinnacle of Test cricket as number one team.

Much more can be said about him but that can wait for the day he finally bows out from ODIs. The rest can be completed by the statisticians who have recorded plenty of things about him.

The selectors look at players the way millions of others do in India. All that Prasad would say about the Test squad to Australia is that it is a mixture of experience and youth.

He has nothing to say why Karun Nair is out without playing, though he thought Rohit Sharma’s backfoot play will come in handy on hard bouncy Australian wickets. He had nothing to say why there are three spinners, unless Ravindra Jadeja is in as an all-rounder.

If Murali Vijay’s past record in Australia and Parthiv Patel’s keeping and batting in Duleep Trophy pick them, Prasad has nothing to say about Mayank Agarwal’s tons of runs in domestic cricket and for India A. Also, whether Shikhar Dhawan played his last Test outside the subcontinent.

That’s why cricket is a funny game!

IANS

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Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed racially abuses Andile Phehlukwayo

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Durban, Jan 23 : Pakistan cricket captain Sarfraz Ahmed stirred a controversy when he racially abused South Africa pacer Andile Phehlukwayo during the second One-Day International (ODI)
in Kingsmead, Durban .

Ahmed was seen to be racially abusing South African all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo who played a key role in his side’s victory over their opposition in Kingsmead, Durban. He was heard to be referring to Phehlukwayo as kaala (black).

Phehlukwayo and Rassie van der Dussen put together a 127-run stand as South Africa defeated Pakistan by five wickets on Tuesday.

The duo came together when the Proteas were struggling at 80/5 in the 15th over while chasing a target of 204 runs.

The partnership apparently frustrated the Pakistanis and Sarfraz gave vent to his feelings in the 37th over of the hosts’ innings when Phehlukwayo was facing Shaheen Afridi.

As Phehlukwayo ambled across to the non-striker’s end while taking a single, the Pakistan captain could be clearly heard saying on the stump mike: “Abey kaale, teri ammi aaj kahaan baitheen hain? Kya parwa ke aaye hai aaj?” (Hey black guy, where’s your mother sitting today? What prayer have you said today?)

The comment sparked a storm of criticism on social media with a host of people condemning Sarfraz’s comment.

Former star fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar called on Sarfraz to tender an apology to Phehlukwayo.

“This is not acceptable as a Pakistani. I guess he did this in the heat of the moment. He should tender a public apology,” the former Pakistan international said in a video on Twitter.

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One of our most balanced performances, Says Captain Virat Kohli

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Virat Kohli

Napier, Jan 23: India skipper Virat Kohli said their 8-wicket win over New Zealand in the first contest of the five-match ODI rubber here was one of their “most balanced” performances.

Chasing a meagre revised 156-run target from 49 overs, opener Shikhar Dhawan (75 not out) starred with the bat to help his side cross the line with ease and 85 balls to spare. Skipper Virat Kohli contributed with 45 runs before falling.

Earlier, India rode the exceptional bowling effort of chinaman Kuldeep Yadav (4/39) and Mohammed Shami (3/19) to restrict the hosts to a paltry 157 runs.

“It was one of our most balanced performances. With the ball, couldn’t have asked for anything better. When I lost the toss, I thought a score of about 300 par but the bowlers were brilliant.

“To get them out for 150-odd on this pitch was brilliant. Belief in his (Shami) abilities is key and as he said, the fast bowling unit is extremely confident of knocking any team out.

“The lines and lengths bowled by the spinners were brilliant because the pitch only slowed down in the second half and they were really good,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Praising Dhawan’s innings, he said: “Really important innings for Shikhar and we spoke during the sun break that he needed to finish the game to get some momentum. He is a dangerous player when in rhythm.”

Commenting on whether he’s experienced a sunstrike break before, Kohli said: “Never in my life, this rule wasn’t there in 2014 and I actually got out in a similar situation.”

Man-of-the-Match Mohammed Shami lauded India’s team effort, saying the teammates enjoy each other’s success and that is the key.

“Till now, whatever we have achieved has been a team effort. We enjoy each other’s success and are able to execute our plans.”

“If we have a plan A that doesn’t work, there’s always a Plan B. As a bowling unit, we decide things together. Injuries changed my outlook. I made a comeback after a long time and spent a good time at our rehab centre which is world class,” he said.

“The management and support staff have been really cooperative, as has been my captain who has always encouraged me. Pitches were similar to Australia but the grounds there were bigger and climate was warmer, here the venues are smaller with pleasant temperatures. Important to adapt and we’re enjoying it.”

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson blamed the batsmen, saying they failed to adjust to the conditions and the surface and their poor show with the bat was not due to lack of match practice.

“Certainly wasn’t our best effort. India, we expected them to be good and they really were on top of the game. The surface wasn’t as traditional as we thought it to be,” he said.

“India bowled well, particularly the lengths hit by their slower bowlers were really good. Getting to just 150ish on a pitch where 250-plus was needed, doesn’t help.

“I think we didn’t adjust well enough to the surface, don’t think it was the lack of match practice that cost us. Their whole bowling unit contributed well and they need credit for that.”

“We also did well with the ball, showed enough intent and will hope to take those things forward,” Williamson added.

IANS

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1st ODI: All-round effort helps India thrash New Zealand

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1st ODI , Ind Vs NZ
1st ODI , Ind Vs NZ. Image : ICC Twitter Handle

Napier, Jan 23: A brilliant all-round effort helped India thrash New Zealand by eight wickets via the Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) method in the first One Day International match at the McLean Park here on Wednesday.

Asked to field first, the Indian bowlers were right on the money as they restricted the hosts to a paltry score and then Indian batters displayed a clinical performance to hand India a 1-0 lead in the five match series.

Chasing 157, Indian openers Rohit Sharma (11) and Shikhar Dhawan (75 not out) started on a positive note, forging a crucial 41-runs partnership before Rohit was dismissed by Doug Bracewell in the 10th over. He was caught by Martin Guptil in the slips.

Just after the fall of Rohit’s wicket, sun stopped the play for around 30 minutes. The sun rays were directly getting into the players eyes which prompted the umpires to suspend the proceedings.

The break saw the match officials reduce the match by one over and the new target for India was revised to 156 from 49 overs.

After the restart, skipper Virat Kohli (45) joined Dhawan in the middle and the duo hammered the New Zealand bowlers all round the park. In the process, Dhawan reached the landmark of 5000 ODI runs and became the second fastest Indian to reach the milestone.

It seemed like the Delhi duo will remain unbeaten and complete the match with ease but in the 29th over, Kohli was sent packing by Lockie Ferguson when scoreboard was reading 132. He was caught behind by Tom Latham.

New batsman Ambati Rayudu (13 not out) and Dhawan then joined hands and completed the proceeding with 85 balls remaining.

For New Zealand, Ferguson and Bracewell took one wicket each.

Earlier, India rode chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and pacer Mohammed Shami’s exceptional bowling effort to restrict New Zealand to a paltry 157 runs.

While Kuldeep’s figures were 4/39, Shami was also phenomenal with the leather, scalping three Kiwi wickets conceding just 19 runs from his six overs.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Kedar Jadhav picked two and one wicket, respectively.

Other than New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson (64), no other batsmen put up a fight against the disciplined Indian attack.

Opting to bat, the hosts had the worst possible start as Shami struck early sending back both the openers — Martin Guptill (5) and Colin Munro (8), cheaply.

Newcomers Williamson and Ross Taylor (24) then tried to rescue their side from the early damage, taking New Zealand past the 50-run mark in 13.3 overs.

However, Taylor’s stay was cut short by Chahal in the 15th over with the hosts at 52/3.

With the addition of just 24 runs in the Kiwi scorecard, Chahal struck again to dismiss incoming batsman Tom Latham (11). Jadhav and Shami then joined the party as they sent back Henry Nicholls (12) and Mitchell Santner (14), leaving the hosts reeling at 133/6.

Williamson, however, continued to show resistance and kept one end safe, but lacked support from the other end.

While trying to clear the fence in the 34th over off a Kuldeep delivery, the Kiwi skipper misread the ball and offered a simple catch to Vijay Shankar at long-on.

Kuldeep then put the final nail in the coffin, picking the tailenders — Doug Bracewell (7), Lockie Ferguson (0) and Trent Boult (1) in quick succession to wrap up the host in just 38 overs.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 157 all out (Kane Williamson 64, Ross Taylor 24; Kuldeep Yadav 4/39) vs India 156/2 (Shikhar Dhawan 75 not out, Virat Kohli 45; Doug Bracewell 1/23).

IANS

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