Picked Rohit over Rahane on current form: Kohli


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.Cape Town, Jan 9 (PTI) India captain Virat Kohli has defended the selection of Rohit Sharma in the opening cricket Test, saying he was picked ahead of Ajinkya Rahane on current form.

“Well, we decided to go on current form. Rohit has scored runs in the last three Test matches that he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka,” said Kohli in the post-match media conference.

“These things can always be looked at in hindsight thinking what if or what if not. But we decided to go with this combination and current form was definitely the criterion,” added Kohli.

Rahane, who has not been amongst the runs of late, had a successful tour of South Africa four years ago. With 209 runs, he was third highest run-getter in the series behind Kohli (272 runs) and Cheteshwar Pujara (280).

India lost the first Test by 72 runs with batting letting them down in both the innings.

This astrologer predicts overseas success for Kohli-led India


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New Delhi, Jan 7 (PTI) A la Paul the ‘predicting’ octopus in football, he has an uncanny knack of correctly predicting the future of cricketers in the sport, and claims to have followers who will vouch for the accuracy of his prophesies.

Narendra Bunde, a resident of Nagpur and a ‘cricket astrologer’ by profession, had “foretold” some months ago that Mahendra Singh Dhoni, now 36, would be playing in the 2019 World Cup in England, at a time when many questioned his place in the limited overs game.

Having got his predictions right about Sachin Tendulkar’s comeback from tennis elbow injury, his Bharat Ratna honour, Sourav Ganguly’s comeback, India’s World Cup triumph in 2011, Bunde says that time has come for Virat Kohli’s team to taste success abroad.

Besides, he says, with supreme confidence, Kohli will soon strike an endorsement deal unheard of in the history of Indian sports.

“I predicted about Dhoni when people were talking all sorts of things against him. Look at the results in the past four months. I can foresee that he will be very much there in the 2019 World Cup,” Bunde tells PTI during a chat.

Regarding the current India captain, he says, “What Kohli will soon be signed up for is like what (Mark) Mascarenhas did with Sachin (Tendulkar). In fact, it’s going to be bigger than that in today’s age. Kohli’s Venus is very strong at the moment and that is why he will do well abroad.”

India are presently touring South Africa and will travel to England in the summer followed by a tour of Australia.

“I mean it will be not as bad as in the past when the opposition would whitewash us. According to his stars and planetary positions, there are chances of positive results in places like New Zealand and Australia.”

In the 1990s when Tendulkar was going great guns, Mascarenhas changed the game of celebrity management and turned the cricket icon into a multi-millionaire.

Bunde, who turned to predicting the future of cricketers in 2006, was a jeweller before that.

Asked how he got into astrology, he says he had taught himself to see the future by reading books on the subject and picking the brains of renowned astrologers.

Among those who have taken his advice are Ganguly, Murali Karthik, S Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina. Even actress Preity Zinta had sought his guidance when her IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab was going through a torrid time.

The Indian women’s team reached the final of the ICC World Cup last year, and Bunde says skipper Mithali Raj, too, took tips from him. And so was Vidarbha captain Faiz Fazal, under whose leadership, Vidarbha won their first-ever Ranji Trophy recently.

Ricky Ponting appointed Delhi Daredevils coach


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Mumbai, Jan 4 (PTI) Australian batting great Ricky Ponting was today appointed coach of the Delhi Daredevils franchise for the upcoming Indian Premier League.

The announcement was made by Delhi Daredevils CEO Hemant Dua as he welcomed the three-time World Cup winner.

Ponting takes over the reins at DD from former India captain Rahul Dravid, who had stepped down after the previous season owing to BCCI’s conflict-of-interest regulations.

Dravid chose to coach India A and India Under-19 teams over the IPL franchise.

“Ricky Ponting has been appointed as head coach. We will have a new coach and a new team with the idea of having continuity. We have retained two youngsters and the whole team will be built around them. Chris Morris is a top all rounder,” Daredevils CEO Hemant Dua said.

The 43-year-old has earlier coached Mumbai Indians for two seasons in 2015 (when they won the title) and 2016.

Apart from coaching role, Ponting has played in the cash-rich T20 tournament for Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians.

Ponting will be assisting the current head coach Darren Lehman in Australia’s T20 tri-series against England and New Zealand in February.

The legendary batsman played 168 Tests, scoring 13378 runs at 51.85.

In ODIs, he tallied 375 appearances in which he scored 13704 runs at 42.03 apart from 401 runs in 17 T20Is.

Delhi Daredevils retained Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Chris Morris ahead of the IPL auctions to be held on January 27-28.

Federer voted BBC overseas sports personality of the year


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London, Dec 15 (AFP) Roger Federer has been voted BBC overseas sports personality of the year for a record fourth time after an astonishing season during which he picked up two more Grand Slam titles.

The Swiss, 36, returned from six months out with knee trouble to win the Australian Open before picking up a record eighth Wimbledon crown and ended the season with a 52-5 record, ranked world number two behind his great rival Rafael Nadal.

Federer previously won the award, which is voted for by the public, in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Muhammad Ali and Usain Bolt have each won it three times.

“It makes me incredibly proud that the UK public have chosen me as the BBC overseas sports personality of the year for 2017,” said Federer.

“The support that the UK crowds give me whenever I’m here is amazing and to be recognised on the shortlist alongside some of the greatest sports people of all time is extremely humbling.”

He overcame competition from American football quarterback Tom Brady, swimmer Katie Ledecky, para-athlete Tatyana McFadden, athlete Sally Pearson, and darts player Michael van Gerwen.

Federer and the other award winners will be honoured during Sunday’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in Liverpool.

Sindhu trounces Yamaguchi at Dubai Super Series Final


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Dubai, Dec 15 (PTI) Already assured of a semifinal spot, Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu continued her rampaging run with a straight-game demolition of World No. 2 Japanese Akane Yamaguchi at the USD one million Dubai Super Series Final here today.

World No. 3 Sindhu thrashed Yamaguchi 21-9 21-13 in just 36 minutes to top group A in women’s singles at the Sheikh Hamdan Indoor Stadium here. This was her last group stage match.

Sindhu, who clinched two Super Series titles this season before winning a silver at the World Championship, will tomorrow face China’s Chen Yufei, who saw off Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon 21-18 13-21 21-18 in another Group B match.

The 22-year-old Indian showed great anticipation and athleticism to completely dominate the proceedings even as Yamaguchi got buried under a heap of unforced errors in the last Group A women’s singles match.

Before the match, Sindhu had a 4-2 head-to-head record against Yamaguchi, which included a win at the Hong Kong Super Series last month.

Sindhu made a rousing start to the match, zooming to a 5 -0 lead. An error at the net allowed Yamaguchi to break it before Sindhu wrested back the serve. The Japanese was effected by a series of unforced errors as she sent the shuttle flying wide and long.

Sindhu entered the opening break at 11-1 with a superb return and continued to rule the roost after the breather, reaching 15-4. Yamaguchi won points sporadically, exploiting the Indian’s backhand a couple of times, but she failed to curb her unforced errors.

At 18-6, Sindhu committed a fault at the net but she followed that with a smash and gained 13 game points when her opponent went wide again.

Yamaguchi saved a couple of game points before Sindhu wrapped up the opening game with a delightful cross court drop.

The second game started on an equal footing with Sindhu and Yamaguchi splitting the initial four points after engaging in some fierce rallies. At 6-7, the duo engaged in a long rally before Yamaguchi sent it wide. A couple of unforced errors and Sindhu was leading 6-8.

Rohit strikes third double ton in ODIs as India post 392/4


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Mohali, Dec 13 (PTI) Rohit Sharma smashed his third double hundred in one-day internationals to fire India to a mammoth 392 for four in a must-win second game against Sri Lanka here today.

Such was the pace of Rohit’s unbeaten 153-ball 208-run innings that after completing his 100 off 115 balls, he blasted his next 100 off just 36 balls.

A host of records were broken on the day that saw Rohit reach his 16th ODI hundred en route to a double hundred. His last double hundred also came against Sri Lanka while the first one was recorded against Australia.

His breathtaking knock included a dozen sixes and 13 boundaries as he literally toyed with the opposition bowlers.

Opening the innings, Rohit took his time initially as Shikhar Dhawan (68 off 69) attacked the opposition bowlers.

The dangerous opening duo completed their 12th century stand to lay the foundation for a big total.

With yet another special effort, the stylish right-hander crossed the 100-run mark in ODIs for the sixth time this year and first ever as captain.

Shreyas Iyer (88 off 70), playing his second ODI, batted well alongside Rohit and came up with the big shots just when his team needed to step on the accelerator.

India thus managed to post the highest total at this ground, bettering 351 for five made by South Africa against Netherlands in 2011.

Another record shattered was of the highest individual score here with Rohit surpassing Virat Kohli’s 154 vs New Zealand last year.

It was cold and overcast over the past two days but the sun came out just before the start of the game, sucking the moisture out of the pitch to make batting easier.

Sri Lanka had no hesitation in bowling first, just like they did in Dharamsala, but the conditions changed quickly to favour the hosts.

Unlike the first ODI, there was not enough swing early on to trouble the Indian batsmen who exploited the conditions to good effect.

Rohit and Dhawan got the measure of the pitch in the first Powerplay, where they made just 33, and started playing their strokes thereafter to take India to 108 for no loss in 20 overs.

Dhawan showed sublime touch ever since he drove Suranga Lakmal through the off-side on the first ball of his innings.

However, he missed out on a hundred after hitting one to the right of midwicket off left-arm spinner Sachith Pathirana.

Delhi on course for fine win in Ranji quarterfinal


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Vijaywada, Dec 10 (PTI) Bowlers put Delhi on course for a memorable win by bowling out Madhya Pradesh for 283 in their second innings, giving their team a 217-run target to chase on day five of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal here .

Pacer Vikas Tokas (3/64) and left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra (4/59) did the bulk of the damage on day four to put their team in a strong position.

Delhi were eight for no loss at stumps with Kunal Chandela and Tokas in the middle.

MP, resuming the day 37 for two, were on the backfoot straightaway on day four with the fall of Shubham Sharma and Naman Ojha.

Puneet Datey (60) and Devendra Bundela (33) then shared a 100-run stand, providing their team some much needed momentum before getting out in a space of four balls to make it 153 for six.

First innings centurion Harpreet Singh came to MP’s rescue

once again with a fighting 78 off 126 balls. He also got good support from Mihir Hirwani (22) and Ankit Sharma (18) in taking his team past the 250-run mark.

Brief scores:

MP: 338 all out and 283 all out in 105.5 overs (Harpreet 78; Mishra 4/59).

Delhi: 405 all out and 8/0 in 3 overs.

For team management Rahane is opening batsman: Rohit


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Dharamsala, Dec 10 (PTI) His technique against pacers was solely missed on a seaming track here and India stand-in- skipper Rohit Sharma admitted that accommodating Ajinkya Rahane was tough as he is considered a specialist opening batsman in the 50-over format by the team management.

Rahane, who scored four successive half-centuries against Australia, was today left out of the playing XI in the first ODI against Sri Lanka, while Shreyas Iyer was handed a maiden cap at No. 3 and Manish Pandey was picked for the No. 5 slot.

“I think we made it clear in Sri Lanka that he is an opening batsman and we don’t want to keep changing his batting slot. It plays on anyone’s mind not just his, if one’s batting order is kept on changing.

“We have identified him as an opening batsman and that’s the only reason he had to sit out. Having said that we understand the runs he scored in the past few series. But we wanted to give these guys Pandey, (Kedar) Jadhav, Iyer fair amount of game before we start touring abroad. It’s important that they take the opportunity,” said Rohit at the post match press conference after India went down by seven wickets.

After India were bundled out for 112 in 38.2 overs, the islanders crossed the target in 20.4 overs.

While none of the Indian batsman could put up a fight, Mahendra Singh Dhoni stood amid the ruins with a gritty 65 and Rohit heaped praise on the former skipper.

“He has been at that situation so many times and has proved himself again and again. First of all, I never understood why there was a talk of he being in our plans or not. Once he gets runs the whole conversation changes.

“He showed us again. I wish one of our top order was batting, so that we could have got more runs. But we learn from it and move forward,” said Rohit.

Asked if India’s batting collapse is a cause of concern considering that India would be touring South Africa for a Test series under same kind of conditions, Rohit said: “This is a one-day side, I don’t think there is any comparison.

“With the Test team we struggled in Kolkata as well but any team in those type of conditions will struggle. I have seen enough cricket and we recently saw Ashes as well, what was happening there as well.”

Defending India’s inexplicable batting collapse, Rohit said Sri Lankan bowlers used the tough conditions to their advantage.

“In conditions like these, only one or two batsmen will score, not all batsmen will score runs. I don’t think we played any rash shots, but they bowled at the right channel, kept us guessing all the time and batsmen were made to play all the time.

“We knew conditions were going to be tough but sometimes when you are put in such situations, you have to bat the situation, which means we got to respect the bowlers. This experience will teach us a lot of things as a team. We take it in our stride and move forward. Again if we are put in that situation we will respond better,” said the captain.

Rohit applauded Lankan pace troika of Suranga Lakmal (4/13), Nuwan Pradeep (2/37) and Angelo Mathews (1/8), who rattled the hosts with a fine display of swing bowling.

“Credit should go to the Sri Lankan bowlers, they made full use of the conditions. But as a team, as a batting unit, days like these will teach us a lot of things, not always we will play on flat conditions and we as a team want to thrive in such conditions and come out on top,” he said.

Tendulkar launches gaming platform featuring him


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Bengaluru, Dec 7 (PTI) Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar today unveiled a digital game featuring him, developed by JetSyntheys, a leading digital entertainment and gaming firm.

The aim of the gaming platform–Sachin Saga Cricket Champions–is to bring cricket fans together and enable each one of them to “experience my journey”, Tendulkar said.

Tendulkar said in his heydays, he used to play video games in parlours.

“During my stint with Yorkshire in 1992 and during 2003 World Cup in South Africa, I used to visit video parlours along with team-mates. Even at home, I do these stuff and my son joins in too. I love doing it,” he said.

Tendulkar said the company worked on this project for two years and shot his batting in a high-tech studio in London where a James Bond movie had been filmed.

He said he had to wear a special suit with 26 to 27 receptors on his body, which captured the body movements and footwork while he displayed his batting skills.

Thirtysix cameras were used for the shooting.

More than anything else, the gaming platform speaks of his important innings than the 100 centuries he scored, Tendulkar said.

“I must give one example – my first Ranji Trophy match was the most important for me at that point of time in my career because there were question marks whether a 15-year-old could perform, and if he doesn’t, his career is destroyed,” he said.

Those were the kind of thoughts running in his mind, but he got a hundred and changed his career, Tendulkar said.

Speaking to PTI on the sidelines of the event, JetSynthesys Non-Executive Chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan said the company expects to get five million downloads in next 60 to 90 days.

“The one million pre-registrations clearly indicates great interest shown by people on this platform, and we would like to build and improvise it based on the feedback, we get,” he said.

Job satisfaction is most in Test cricket: Kohli


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New Delhi, Dec 4 (PTI) For a man with an insatiable hunger for runs, Virat Kohli says he derives utmost job satisfaction when he shines in Test cricket, a format he has mastered “watching” teammate Cheteshwar Pujara bat for long hours.

Only 29, Kohli has already established himself as one of the game’s greats, yesterday overtaking Brian Lara as the skipper with most Test double hundreds (6).

“My favourite obviously is Test cricket, we are making sure from every angle that this should be the most important format because as batsman or as bowlers also we know how pleasing it is to score in Test matches, especially when conditions are tough,” Kohli said.

The captain was speaking to Pujara on ‘bcci.tv’.

He added, “You have to counter conditions in South Africa, England, Australia. Job satisfaction is the most in this format. ODI and T20 also from an emotional point of view.

When there is a full stadium and you win a close game that gives you a high.”

Kohli said that it is his teammate Pujara who has inspired him to score big hundreds and that he has learnt to bat longer watching him do that.

“It feels wonderful. It was always my mindset to score big hundreds, something that I have watched you do a lot in your career early on and learnt also, how to concentrate for longer periods.

“We have all learnt from his (Pujara) long innings, his concentration levels and his will to keep batting. So I also got inspired by that to keep batting for the team for as long as possible.

“Now I only think of how I can play more for the team and then you know, you don’t feel the tiredness and anything else and keep carrying on looking at the situation,” Kohli said.

The Indian captain has scored all his six double hundreds in the last 17 months and has also scored 52 international centuries across formats.

Kohli said he strives to remain in peak physical fitness in order to make the most of it in the time he has.

“We know as professional cricketers, we don’t have many years. So, we have to make the most of it and I try to stay as fit as possible, take care of my diet, take care of my training and it’s paid off well till now.

“In the later half of my career, as we all know it’s going to get more difficult. So, I’m trying to put in as much as possible in training now and later on, I can still manage to keep the same kind of intensity.

“But I think we all are training so hard now and it’s showing on the field and I am just trying to do the same.”

While it is well documented by now, Kohli was again asked how and when his transformation kicked in, and he was forthright in his reply.

“The change started in the 2012 IPL when I had a very bad season and I was expecting a lot from that season because I had scored a Test hundred in Australia and I scored 180 against Pakistan in Asia Cup.

“I could not come out of that, my mental state was very bad, I was eating very bad, my habits were not good at all. So I went home afterwards and I saw myself in the mirror after coming out of the shower and I though I can’t look like this if I want to be an international cricketer.

“So, from the next day onwards, I changed everything about my diet, training and everything. I was in the gym everyday for an hour and half to two hours and I just completely changed my diet.”

Asked if he is on the lookout to score a double ton in ODIs, Kohli said, “Double hundred is not something I can plan.