Sidharth Gulati, Author at Sportzwiki

Sidharth Gulati

While spending good 22 years of my life, I found my passion in India's unofficial national game, Cricket.

India vs Australia 2017: Virat Kohli Hints At Mohammed Shami’s Comeback For Dharamsala Test

Virat Kohli has hinted at Mohammed Shami’s comeback for fourth and the final Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at Dharamsala, starting March 25. 

Shami, who has been out of international action since December 2016 owing to a knee injury, returned to domestic circuit for the Vijay Hazare Trophy – Group game against Gujarat. However, the speedster didn’t perform well as he finished with the figures of 0/36 in seven overs. In the recently concluded final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Shami was at his full throttle as he grabbed four scalps but couldn’t help Bengal escape a 37-run defeat at the hands of Tamil Nadu, led by Dinesh Karthik’s well-compiled 112 off 120 balls.

With an all-important game at Dharamsala, India would hope to get Shami’s services, so as to finish their long home season on a high.

Speaking at the post-match conference of the Ranchi Test, Kohli said: 

“WE SENT HIM (SHAMI) TO PLAY VIJAY HAZARE TROPHY BECAUSE HE WAS BOWLING 10-12 OVERS IN A GO. WANTED TO GIVE HIM SOME MATCH PRACTICE.

“I HAVEN’T SPOKEN WITH THE SELECTORS YET (ABOUT SHAMI’S SELECTION). ALL KINDS OF POSSIBILITIES APPROACHING THE NEXT TEST AT DHARAMSALA,” KOHLI SAID.

Since the ICC World Cup 2015, Mohammed Shami has been in and out of the Indian team. After missing most of international cricket the same year, he returned to the side for the limited-overs series against Australia in January 2016 but was ruled out even before the start of the series because of a hamstring injury. Shami was in the squad for the 2016 ICC World T20 but didn’t get to play a single match.

However, he marked his return in the 2016 Indian Premier League for Delhi Daredevils but with below par performance (five wickets in 8 matches at an economy rate of 9.69), things seemed bleak for the Bengal lad.

After being left out of the Zimbabwe tour, Shami was included in the Test squad for the away series against the West Indies, where he emerged as the second highest wicket-taker with 11 wickets in four games.

Against both New Zealand and England, Shami took a total of 18 wickets combined in six Tests before getting injured. He is yet to feature in an ODI since 2015 and with Champions Trophy just a couple of months away, Shami would look to get some white-ball practice in the upcoming edition of the IPL, that commences April 5.

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India vs Australia 2017, 1st Test: Noticeable Stats and Some ‘Maybes’

Maybe it’s surprising. Maybe some would bring the ‘pitch’ thing in between. Maybe it could well be one of the those Tests where everything clicked for an overseas team. But at the very same time, one can’t deny the fact that Steven Smith-led Australia annihilated an ever strong India at home by 333 runs to announce their arrival in sub-continent.

Without going much into the details of the pre-series discussions about how Australia were going to be outclassed by an upbeat Virat Kohli’s India, it’s better to come straight to the point.

Starting from toss, openers David Warner and Matt Renshaw showed resistance before a quickfire knock from Mitchell Starc propelled the visitors to 260, a total which spin legend Shane Warne predicted to be enough for first innings.

In reply, as always – a lot was expected from a formidable Indian batting line-up but it collapsed like a pack of cards, only to get bundled out on 105 with Steve O’Keefe being the wrecker in chief. Maybe the hosts lost the match here itself, but it should be fair to say Starc’s innings had much of an impact to cause an unbalance in the Indian camp.

Then came Steven Smith’s resilient century. Maybe with that technique, plums were on the cards but Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav had no answer to his defense and attacking hits. A well-compiled 109 and India were all but out of the game. 441 was needed to break the world record set by Brian Lara-led West Indies (against Australia in 2004) but it took just 34 overs for the Kangaroos to complete an impressive victory in less than three days.

Let’s have a look at some of the ‘firsts’ that came into notice after India’s Pune defeat:

–> India’s first Test loss at home since 2012

–> Virat Kohli’s first Test loss at home

–> India’s first Test loss since August 2015

–> For the first time since 2010, India trail in a home series

–> Australia’s first win in India since 2004 and in sub-continent since 2011

For the visitors, a series win looks pretty realistic. One more match and India would be under extreme pressure of losing their first Test series under Kohli’s captaincy. On the other hand, the hosts should not press the panic button and stick to the same team, that guided them to wins over West Indies, England, New Zealand and Bangladesh in past.

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IPL trophy (Image Credit: Twitter)

IPL 2017 Auction, Highlights: Ben Stokes, Tymal Mills Most Expensive Buys, Ishant Sharma-Irfan Pathan Remain Unsold

IPL 2017 Auction, Highlights

England’s Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills turned out to be the most expensive buys while surprisingly, India’s Test spearhead Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan remained unsold. Catch the highlights of 2017 IPL auction here

15:40 hrs IST: All franchises did a decent job but it’s surprising to see the likes of Ishant Sharma, Imran Tahir, Irfan Pathan not being picked. Stay tuned for further updates on sportzwiki.com. Until then, it’s goodbye from Sidharth Gulati. Cheers!

15:36 hrs IST: A total of 66 players got sold. 

15:27 hrs IST: Last but not the least. New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson is sold to RPS for Rs 50 lakh. And that concludes the 2017 IPL auction. 

15:26 hrs IST: David Wiese and Kanishk Seth go unsold while Sayan Ghosh gets sold to KKR for Rs 10 lakh. 

15:23 hrs IST: Darren Bravo is sold to KKR for Rs 50 lakh. RPS buy Manoj Tiwary for his base price Rs 50 lakh.

15:22 hrs IST: Akshdeep Nath enters the auction for the third time and gets picked by GL for Rs 10 lakh. He represented the same franchise last season. 

14:57 hrs IST: Pratham Singh sold to GL for Rs 10 lakh.  We’ll be back in 20 minutes time for the final round. 

14:55 hrs IST: R Sanjay Yadav and Ishank Jaggi sold to KKR for Rs 10 lakh each.

14:54 hrs IST: Shelley Shaurya and Shubham Agarwal sold to GL for Rs 10 lakh each. 

14:51 hrs IST: Bangladesh’s Mehedi Hasan, Mahmudullah and Sabbir Rahman remain unsold.

14:50 hrs IST: UAE’s Chirag Suri sold to GL for Rs 10 lakh. 

14:48 hrs IST: Kulwant Khejroliya, Colin de Grandhomme, Dwaine Pretorious, Ben Wheeler, K Williams, Tajinder Singh and Virat Singh all remain unsold.

14:45 hrs IST: Shashank Singh sold to DD for Rs 10 lakh while Milind Tandon sold to RPS 10 lakh too.

14:43 hrs IST: Former India bowler Munaf Patel sold to GL for Rs 30 lakh. Uncapped Harpreet Singh Bhatia and Rinku Singh remain unsold.

14:41 hrs IST: New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner and Lockie Ferguson remain unsold.

14:39 hrs IST: Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy, who remained unsold in last year’s auction, is bought by KXIP for Rs 30 lakh. A great buy!

14:38 hrs IST: West Indies’ Rovman Powell sold to KKR for Rs 30 lakh. 

14:37 hrs IST: Slight surprise – Both Wayne Parnell and Jimmy Neesham remain unsold.

14:36 hrs IST: Australia all-rounder Dan Christian sold to RPS for Rs 1 crore. 

14:35 hrs IST: Asela Gunaratne, who helped Sri Lanka win the T20I series against Australia on Sunday, is sold to MI for Rs 30 lakh. Joe Burns remains unsold. 

14:34 hrs IST: Rahul Chahar and Saurabh Kumar bought by RPS for Rs 10 lakh each.

14:32 hrs IST: Siraj sold to SRH for Rs 2.6 crores. He is a bright prospect and hopefully his stint with the Hyderabad franchise will help him hone his skills. 

14:31 hrs IST: Mohammed Siraj now. RCB and SRH engage in the bidding war. His price touches Rs 2 crore.

14:29 hrs IST: Uncapped West Indies player Ronsford Beaton goes unsold.

14:27 hrs IST: Himanshu Rana, Ashok Wankhade, Akash Bhandari, Akhil Herwadkar, Dishant Yagnik, Rishi Arothe and Pankaj Jaswal all remain unsold.

14:24 hrs IST: Australia’s Ben Laughlin sold to SRH for Rs 30 lakh. As for Billy Stanlake, he goes to RCB for his base price (Rs 30 lakh)

14:22 hrs IST: Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera and Parvez Rasool – who recently made his T20I debut against England – remain unsold.

14:21 hrs IST: Manoj Tiwary, who last played for India in 2012, remains unsold. Last year too, no team bid for him.

14:20 hrs IST: Mitchell Swepson, Darren Bravo, Ewin Lewis and Mayank Dagar all remain unsold.

14:18 hrs IST: Fast-bowler Navdeep Saini sold to DD for Rs 10 lakh. 

14:17 hrs IST: Both the uncapped players Akshdeep Nath and Vishnu Vinod remain unsold.

14:16 hrs IST: Praveen Dubey is sold to RCB for Rs 10 lakh. 

14:15 hrs IST: Another big surprise. The number one ranked ODI and T20I bowler remains unsold. 

14:14 hrs IST: Spinners Pragyan Ojha and Ish Sodhi remain unsold. Imran Tahir next.

14:13 hrs IST: And, India’s Ishant Sharma still remains unsold. Surprising!

14:11 hrs IST: SRH and KKR continue the bid for the Australian paceman. Hyderabad franchise pull out. Coulter-Nile sold to KKR for Rs 3.5 crore. 

14:10 hrs IST: Kyle Abbott – with a base price of Rs 1.5 crore – goes unsold. He is currently associated with Hampshire on a Kolpak deal. Nathan Coulter-Nile now.

14:08 hrs IST: And another shocker! Irfan Pathan still remains unsold and so does England’s Jonny Bairstow.

14:07 hrs IST: SRH bid and get him for his base price of Rs 50 lakh. Jordan played for RCB last season. 

14:06 hrs IST: Sean Abbott remains unsold in this year’s auction. Chris Jordan next.

14:05 hrs IST: Saurabh Tiwary now. MI start the bidding for him and they get him for Rs 30 lakh.

14:03 hrs IST: Next up is Jason Roy. And, Gujarat Lions open the bid. And again, nothing from the other franchises. Roy sold to GL for Rs 1 crore. 

14:02 hrs IST: Martin Guptill comes back into the auction list. Same base price Rs 50 lakh. And, KXIP are the first bidders. Nothing from the other franchises. And, the New Zealander goes to the Punjab-based outfit. 

13:59 hrs IST: Welcome back!

13:00 hrs IST: A total of 33 players have been sold till now.

12:57 hrs IST: 

Remaining purse (in crores):

MI: 4.05
RCB: 2.82
SRH: 15.65
GUJ: 12.40
RPSG: 2.7
DD: 8.95
KXIP: 12.85
KKR: 12

12:39 hrs IST: Break now. We’ll back in a few minutes time.

12:38 hrs IST: Manpreet Gony sold to GL for Rs 60 lakhs while Fawad Ahmed, Nathan Lyon, Rahul Sharma and Akila Dhananjaya remain unsold. 

12:35 hrs IST: GL are out and Aaron is sold to KXIP for Rs 2.8 crores. 

12:33 hrs IST: Varun Aaron now. DD start the bidding. KXIP and GL jump into the fray. Expect a big bidding for him!

12:31 hrs IST: India’s Jaydev Unadkat sold to RPS for Rs 30 lakhs. 

12:30 hrs IST: Both of Australia’s Billy Stanlake and Ben Laughlin remain unsold.

12:29 hrs IST: RP Singh, who represented RPS last season, goes unsold. New Zealand’s Matt Henry sold to KXIP for Rs 50 lakhs. 

12:28 hrs IST: Brad Haddin and Glenn Phillips go unsold. The next set is of fast-bowlers.

12:26 hrs IST: Anamul Haque, Kusal Perera and Shane Dowrich remain unsold. Niroshan Dickwella also goes unsold.

12:21 hrs IST: Rishi Dhawan, who represented KXIP last season, has been bought by KKR for Rs 55 lakhs. Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera and South Africa’s Farhaan Behardien go unsold. 

12:18 hrs IST: Jason Holder is unsold while leggie Karn Sharma goes for a whopping Rs 3.2 crores to Mumbai Indians.

12:14 hrs IST: Chris Woakes sold to KKR for Rs 4.2 crores

12:13 hrs IST: KKR have opened the bidding for Woakes. SRH jump in. The all-rounder’s price has touched Rs 4 crores.

12:11 hrs IST: And the process continues. Marlon Samuels, Ewin Lewis, Darren Bravo and Parvez Rasool all go unsold. Here comes Chris Woakes.

12:06 hrs IST: Pravin Tambe sold to SRH for Rs 10 lakhs. Mitchell Swepson, Akshay Wakhare, Manoj Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara, Abhinav Mukund and Michael Klinger all remain unsold. 

11:59 hrs IST: And, Rashid Khan sold to Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 4 crores. Smart pick! 

11:58 hrs IST: And, and…. SRH jump in and take lead. Rashid’s price has gone past Rs 3.5 crores.

11:57 hrs IST: Sarabjeet Ladda remains unsold. Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan is next. MI and GL have opened the bid for him.

11:55 hrs IST: Mayank Dagar goes unsold while Tejas Baroka is sold to GL for his base price of Rs 10 lakhs.

11:53 hrs IST: Uncapped spinners list is next. Murugan Ashwin is the first player. His former franchise RPS start the bid. DD jump in. His price has touched Rs 1 crore. Murugan has been sold to DD for Rs 1 crore. 

11:52 hrs IST: Basil Thampi sold to GL for Rs 85 lakhs. 

11:50 hrs IST: Navdeep Saini, Umar Nazir and Pawan Suyal all remain unsold.

11:48 hrs IST: Nathu Singh is sold to GL for Rs 50 lakhs. Their first buy in the 2017 IPL auction. 

11:46 hrs IST: KXIP get T Natarjan, left-arm fast medium, for Rs 3 crore. Surely, Virender Sehwag must have seen something in him. 

11:42 hrs IST: And finally, Aniket Chaudhary sold to RCB for Rs 2 crore. Indeed, a good buy!

11:40 hrs IST: RCB and GL continue to bid for Chaudhary and his price has gone past Rs 1.5 crores.

11:36 hrs IST: Abu Nechim Ahmed is the first player but he goes unsold. Aniket Chaudhary is next.

11:35 hrs IST: Next is the set of uncapped fast-bowlers.

11:34 hrs IST: Former KKR and KXIP player Manvinder Bisla remains unsold.

11:33 hrs IST: And this auction continues to surprise. Mohammad Shahzad, an ideal player for the T20 format, goes unsold. Mohit Ahlawat, who scored 300 in a T20 game recently, also remains unsold. 

11:31 hrs IST: Aditya Tare sold to DD for Rs 25 lakhs while Eklavya Dwivedi sold to Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 75 lakhs. 

11:29 hrs IST: Uncapped wicketkeepers list now.

11:28 hrs IST: Priyank Panchal, the highest run-scorer in Ranji Trophy 2016/17, remains unsold and so does Rush Kalaria. 

11:25 hrs IST: Praveen Dubey, Shivan Dube and Manan Sharma remain unsold.

11:21 hrs IST: Rahul Tewatia sold to KXIP for Rs 25 lakhs. 

11:20 hrs IST: K Gowtham, Karnataka all-rounder, sold to Mumbai Indians for Rs 2 crore. 

11:18 hrs IST: And history has been created. Mohammad Nabi becomes the first Afghanistan player to be picked in the IPL. Sunrisers Hyderabad take him for Rs 30 lakhs. 

11:15 hrs IST: Next up is the list of all-rounders. Aksh Deep Nath is the first player but he remains unsold. Mahipal Lomror, who played for DD last season, goes unsold this time around.

11:14 hrs IST: Tanmay Agarwal sold to SRH for Rs 10 lakhs. 

11:12 hrs IST: Unmukt Chand is next. But he remains unsold and so do Afghanistan’s Asghar Stanikzai.

11:10 hrs IST: DD get Bawne for his base price of Rs 10 lakh. 

11:09 hrs IST: Umang Sharma and Prithvi Shaw remain unsold. Next up is Ankeet Bawne.

11:08 hrs IST: Set of uncapped players now.

11:05 hrs IST: Here is the complete list of players who were bought in the second half: 

Nicholas Pooran – MI  – Rs 30 lakh 
Kagiso Rabada -DD – Rs 5 crore
Trent Boult – KKR – Rs 5 crore 
Tymal Mills – RCB – Rs 12 crore 
Pat Cummins – DD – Rs 4.5 crore
Mitchell Johnson – MI – Rs 2 crore 

11:01 hrs IST: Both Tahir and Ishant can come into the auction again when the unsold players go under the hammer later in the afternoon. 

10:57 hrs IST: Shocker! The world No.1 spinner Imran Tahir goes unsold. 

10:55 hrs IST: Lakshan Sandan, Brad Hogg, Ish Sodhi and Pragyan Ojha all remain unsold.

10:53 hrs IST: Spinners are up next.

10:48 hrs IST: Kyle Abbott, former South Africa player, is up next with a base price of Rs 1.5 crore. But, he goes unsold.

10:44 hrs IST: And, the left-arm pacer is sold to Mumbai Indians for his base price. 

10:43 hrs IST: Mitchell Johnson now. His base price is Rs 2 crore. And, his former franchise Mumbai Indians are the first to bid for him.

10:41 hrs IST: So we have another 10 crore player in this auction. Mills sold to RCB for Rs 12 crore.

10:39 hrs IST: Next up is England’s Tymal Mills. MI and KXIP start bidding with RCB and KKR joining them.

10:36 hrs IST: New Zealand’s Trent Boult sold to KKR for Rs 5 crores. 

10:34 hrs IST: The South Africa sensation gets sold to DD for Rs 5 crores. Indeed, a good buy!

10:32 hrs IST: Kagiso Rabada now. His base price is 1 crore. KXIP start the bidding. DD jump into the fray.

10:31 hrs IST: Fast-bowlers are up next. Nathan Coulter-Nile is the first player. He played for Delhi Daredevils in 2016 but this time, he remains unsold.

10:29 hrs IST: Andre Fletcher, Dinesh Chandimal, Johnson Charles remain unsold while Nichloas Pooran sold to Mumbai Indians for his base price of Rs 30 lakhs.

10:25 hrs IST: And Bairstow – with a base price of Rs 1.5 crores – remains unsold. Madley comes up with a funny response “he is no longer friends with Ben Stokes”.

10:24 hrs IST: Set of capped wicket-keepers next. Australia’s Ben Dunk is the first one with a base price of Rs 30 lakh. But…he goes unsold. Jonny Bairstow is up next.

10:15 hrs IST: Here is the list of players who have been sold so far:

Eoin Morgan – KXIP – Rs 2 crore 

Pawan Negi – RCB – Rs 1 crore 

Angelo Mathews – DD – Rs 2 crore 

Ben Stokes – RPS – Rs 14.5 crore 

Corey Anderson – DD – Rs 1 crore

10:07 hrs IST: Both Sean Abbott and Chris Jordan remain unsold.

10:05 hrs IST: Corey Anderson to DD for Rs 1 crore.

10:00 hrs IST: And RPS have him. Ben Stokes fetches a humongous amount of Rs 14.5 crore. He becomes the highest international player in the IPL, surpassing Shane Watson’s price of Rs 9.5 crore. 

09:59 hrs IST: From Rs 2 crore to 14.5 crore….and guess what… the bid is still on. 

09:56 hrs IST: And as expected, it’s all Ben Stokes. From MI to DD to RCB to SRH… everyone want him. And now, out of nowhere, RPS jump into the frame. 

09:52 hrs IST: Delhi Daredevils get Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews for his base price of Rs 2 crore. Next up is Irfan Pathan (base price – Rs 50 lakh)… but…but he goes unsold. Shocking indeed!

09:49 hrs IST: RPS and GL open up the bid for Negi. RCB jump into the picture and so do SRH. And, in the end, RCB bag him for Rs 1 crore. The first Indian to get sold in this year’s auction till now. 

09:46 hrs IST: Next set is of all-rounders. Pawan Negi is the first one. He was the most expensive Indian player (Rs 8.5 cr) in the auction last year.

09:44 hrs IST: And former RPS player Saurabh Tiwary remains unsold. So in the first set to players, Eoin Morgan is the only one to fetch a bid. 

09:43 hrs IST: Former New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor – with a base price of Rs 50 lakh – goes unsold.

09:41 hrs IST: India’s Faiz Fazal and England’s Alex Hales remain unsold.

09:39 hrs IST: Jason Roy. His base price is Rs 1 crore. No bids. And..SURPRISINGLY..he remains unsold.

09:37 hrs IST: Eoin Morgan now. Kings XI Punjab the first to bid for him. No other franchise seem to be interested. AND… the first player of the day to get sold is the England’s limited-overs skipper – on his base price. (Rs 2 crore)

09:36 hrs IST: Capped batsmen list to start of with. Martin Guptill is the first player with Rs 50 lakh base price. But..but….but…. he remains unsold.

09:25 hrs IST: We are just five minutes away from the auction.

09:20 hrs IST: Must say he is brilliant!

09:16 hrs IST: Here is the list of players who will go under the hammer in the 2017 IPL auction.

09:12 hrs IST: Heading into the auction, Kings XI Punjab (Rs 23.35 cr) and Delhi Daredevils (Rs 23.10 cr) have the maximum purse. 

09:08 hrs IST: In a surprising move, Steven Smith has replaced Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Rising Pune Supergiants captain. On the other hand, Mitchell Starc has ended his association with Royal Challengers Bangalore.

09:01 hrs IST: Have to say it’s going to be an interesting day. My pick for the costliest buy – either of Jason Roy or Chris Woakes

08:54 hrs IST: Meanwhile, this legendary cricketer has announced his retirement from international cricket. He holds quite a few records, especially in the 50-over format.

08:40 hrs IST: Good morning and welcome to the live coverage of the 2017 Indian Premier League auction. 50 minutes before the auction begins.

The much-awaited auction for the upcoming season of the cash-rich league is around the corner with some big names in the world of cricket set to garner interest from various franchises. Initially, there were 799 players in the auction list before being trimmed down to 351, after the eight franchises submitted their wishlist. However, a total of 76 players can be purchased.

The list also includes 23 capped Indian players. A striking name in this list is Cheteshwar Pujara with a base price of Rs 30 lakh. A total of six players from the Associates – including five from Afghanistan and one from the UAE are also a part of the roster.

Seven players – Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan, Angelo Mathews, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Johnson, Ishant Sharma and Chris Woakes have kept their base price as Rs 2 crore. The likes of Kyle Abbott, Jonny Bairstow, Brad Haddin, Trent Boult, Jason Holder and Nathan Lyon have a base price of Rs 1.5 crore while Kagiso Rabada, Marlon Samuels, Jason Roy have a base price of Rs 1 crore.

As for the uncapped players, Mohit Ahlawat, Ishank Jaggi and Nathu Singh could steal the spotlight.

Here is the list of the amount details and players of each team:

Team Purse Spent Balance Purse Purse Spent (Rs. In Crs) Balance Purse (Rs. In Crs) Total Players in the squad Overseas players
DD 445,000,000 215,000,000 44.5 21.5 18 5
KXIP 426,500,000 233,500,000 42.65 23.35 19 5
KKR 462,500,000 197,500,000 46.25 19.75 14 4
MI 544,450,000 115,550,000 54.445 11.555 20 6
RCB 531,750,000 128,250,000 53.175 12.825 20 8
SRH 451,000,000 209,000,000 45.1 20.9 17 5
RPS 469,000,000 191,000,000 46.9 19.1 16 5
GL 516,500,000 143,500,000 51.65 14.35 16 6
Total 3,846,700,000 1,433,300,000 384.67 143.33 140 44

Alastair Cook Steps Down As England’s Test Captain

Alastair Cook has decided to step down as England’s Test captain, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Monday (February 6). After leading the Three Lions in 59 Tests, the southpaw, who is also England’s all-time highest run-scorer in Tests, called it quits after a humiliating 4-0 loss at the hands of India, in December last year.

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Confirming his decision, Cook said:

“It’s been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years.

“Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision but I know this is the correct decision for me and at the right time for the team.

“I’ve had time to reflect after the India series and this weekend I spoke to Colin Graves, the Chairman, to explain and offer my resignation.

“It’s a sad day personally in many ways but I want to thank everyone I’ve captained, all the coaches and support staff and, of course, the England supporters and the Barmy Army who follow us home and away and have given us unwavering support.

“Playing for England really is a privilege and I hope to carry on as a Test player, making a full contribution and helping the next England captain and the team however I can.”

Alastair Cook was appointed England’s Test captain in 2012, after Andrew Strauss resigned from the post following the 2-0 defeat against South Africa at home, which also saw them lose their No. 1 ranking.

His full-time captaincy career started with a bang as England got the better of Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side in the four-match series (2-1), their first series win in India since 1984-85. Under Cook, England won the Ashes twice (2013, 2015) and also defeated South Africa in South Africa (2-1) in 2015-16.

He had his fair share of lows as a captain. Under him, England lost the 2013-14 Ashes (5-0). In 2014, for the first time in almost two years, England lost a home series (against Sri Lanka 1-0), which proved to be Alastair Cook’s first Test series loss as a captain at home. In 2015, after almost sealing the first Test against Pakistan in the UAE, Cook’s men lost the final two Tests, only to lose the series 2-0.

Last year, England thoroughly dominated Bangladesh in their own backyard after winning the ODIs and the first Test, but suffered a humiliating defeat in the second Test, only to draw the series 1-1.

On India tour, they started on a bright note at Rajkot but were thrashed 4-0 by Virat Kohli-led side. This series defeat raised a lot of questions on his captaincy career and speculations were rife that he would step down sooner or later.

In 59 Tests, Alastair Cook won 24, lost 22 and drew 13.

Andrew Strauss, Director of England Cricket, paid tribute to Alastair Cook and lauded him for his fantastic contribution to English cricket.

“I want to thank Alastair, on behalf of the ECB and from a personal perspective, for the fantastic contribution that he’s made to the England Test team since taking over as Captain in 2012.

“His country owes him a great debt of gratitude; he’s led the team with determination, conviction and a huge amount of pride over the last five years and his record stands for itself. With more matches leading the team than anyone, including two Ashes wins, he deserves to be seen as one of our country’s great captains.

“Off the field as well as on, he has shown his strengths, developing the team and its culture, managing a fundamental transition and helping us to build for the future.  As with all leaders, there have been times where circumstances have tested him but his resilience and temperament have helped him to prevail and to prosper.

“He has always served with the best interests of the team in the front of his mind and stays true to that as he steps down from the role. Alastair will be missed in his capacity as Captain but I hope that he has a number of years left to add to his record-breaking feats as an opening batsman and look forward to his continued success.

“We now move on with the process of appointing the right successor. There are a number of established players who are playing formal or informal leadership roles and whilst we’ve rightly not spoken to anyone in relation to the Test captaincy so far, we can now talk fully and openly within the team. We expect to be able to make an announcement before the team head to the West Indies on 22nd February.”

So far, Cook has played 140 Tests and scored 11,057 runs at an average of 46.45 with 30 centuries and 53 half-centuries.

It is expected that Joe Root will be appointed as the new captain in the coming days.

Kyle Abbott enjoys competition with Dale Steyn
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Kyle Abbott, Rilee Rossouw’s SA Career Ends As The Duo Commit Future To Hampshire

Kyle Abbott, Rilee Rossouw’s international career has effectively been ended after the duo have agreed to Kolpak deals with Hampshire.

It should be noted that Abbott has signed a four-year deal for the county team he played as an overseas signing in 2014 while southpaw Rossouw has joined Hampshire on a three-year deal.

“I have signed a Kolpak agreement,” Abbott said after the conclusion of the second Test against Sri Lanka. “It has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make but it is the right decision for me.”

“There have been a few evenings where I have gone to sleep wondering if I made the right decision and woken up in the morning knowing I have. The last few months [since I made the decision] it’s about playing with weight off my shoulders. In the last few months, I have never felt far away from being dropped. I’ve now played thinking if I do it doesn’t matter. I am really enjoying it. If I wasn’t committed to South African cricket, I would have done this a long time ago.

“February would be four years since my international debut. Ever since I played in South Africa, at every level, there has always been a quota system. I have never used it as an excuse and I won’t now. I need to pay bills, I need to buy groceries.”

Faf du Plessis, South Africa’s newly appointed Test captain, didn’t look happy with the way things panned out. Although, he said he totally respects Abbott’s decision but doesn’t agree with it.

“That was not the way we wanted. It was something that we didn’t expect and it was out of our control,” du Plessis said. 

“We did get together and spoke to Kyle and tried to change his mind. Kyle had already set up what he wanted to do. Then it was just about me making sure the boys were focused on the job at hand. The boys were brilliant. Even Kyle. He wanted to make sure everything was about the team. I’m a little bit upset that Kyle couldn’t get one or two wickets. Would have liked to see him do well in his last outing.

“Opportunity, money, transformation. There are a lot of factors guys will look at as their excuse or as their reason. What Kyle’s is, I am not sure. Every single reason is a concern. He is someone who has not been sure for a period of time. He wants security.

“I want him playing for South Africa. He is not going to be part of our team so if he is not going to be part of our team, its time to move on. I respect his decision but I don’t agree with it,” he added. 

As for Rilee Rossouw, who was last selected for Australia Tests in 2016 (that South Africa won 2-1), believes moving to England will give him and his family long term security which couldn’t have been possible in South Africa.

“I have loved representing the Proteas and will watch from afar with great affection every time they take the field from now on but I am hugely dedicated to making Hampshire cricket successful on the field,” Rossouw said. 

“I would like to express my thanks to Cricket South Africa for the opportunity to represent my country and also for the Knights for their continued support. 

“The decision to leave South Africa is something I have thought long and hard about and moving to England will give me and my family the long term career security that I believe is important at this stage of my life.”

Rossouw played 36 ODIs and 15 T20Is for South Africa and hit three centuries while Kyle Abbott played 11 Tests, 28 ODIs and 21 T20Is and grabbed a total of 99 wickets.

South Africa have already taken a 2-0 lead in the ongoing three-match series against Sri Lanka. Wayne Parnell, who is already in the squad as a backup pacer, is expected to replace Abbott while Duanne Olivier – Knights seamer – has been called up for the third Test.

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Day To Celebrate Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Successful Captaincy: Sachin Tendulkar

Just the way he would surprise commentators and cricket pundits with his uncanny yet successful captaincy moves, Mahendra Singh Dhoni stunned the cricketing world on Wednesday by stepping down as India’s limited-overs captain. The announcement came minutes after the BCCI declared the date (January 6) of their selection committee meeting to name the squad for the ODI series against England, starting January 15.

Under Dhoni, India won the first edition of the 2007 World T20, ICC World Cup 2011 and the 2013 Champions Trophy. In total, he led India in 199 ODIs and 72 T20Is. Dhoni quit the Test captaincy in December 2014 when he retired from the format after the Boxing Day Test against Australia.

‘Master Blaster’ Sachin Tendulkar congratulated Mahendra Singh Dhoni for leading the Indian cricket team to great heights.

Here is what former India players spoke about Dhoni’s sudden decision:

Kiran More: 

“Dhoni knew it was the right time to hand over the limited overs captaincy to Virat. He did it at the right time in Test cricket too.

“Giving up captaincy is not easy. He has set a great example in Indian cricket, it shows he will do what is best for Indian cricket. When you go, go out on top.”

Dilip Vengsarkar: 

“As a selector you see the potential. At that time (in 2007) who would have thought he would become one of India’s greatest captains. He was an outstanding leader of men, a great player and a great ambassador of Indian cricket. He came on his own terms and is leaving on his own terms.”

Chetan Chauhan: 

“He perhaps realises that he can’t stretch himself as captain till 2019 World Cup. So he made way for Virat Kohli. This is a great sacrifice.”

Gundappa Viswanath: 

“Dhoni must have noticed that Virat is doing really well, and there is nothing wrong in playing under him. He has done well recently as a batsman (in the last ODI series versus New Zealand) and will still be an asset to the team.”

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni Steps Down As India’s Limited-Overs Captain

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has stepped down as India’s limited-overs captain. The news comes just two days before the squad announcement for the ODI and T20I series against England, which starts from January 15. He will, however, be available for selection for both series.

Although, the next captain hasn’t been announced, but the current Test skipper Virat Kohli – in all likelihood – will take over from him.

“Mahendra Singh Dhoni has informed the BCCI, that he wishes to step down as the captain of the Indian Cricket Team from the One Day Internationals and the T20 Internationals formats of the game,” Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said in a release.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India’s most successful captain across all formats, relinquished the Test captaincy in December 2014, when he retired from the format after the Boxing Day Test against Australia. He then continued to lead India in ODIs and T20Is.

Under Dhoni, India won the inaugural edition of the 2007 World T20, ICC World Cup 2011 and the Champions Trophy 2013. In the 2015 World Cup, India won seven matches in a row on their road to semi-finals and in the 2016 World T20 at home, they reached the last four.

Apart from this, India also registered some famous series wins under Dhoni, both at home and abroad. The list follows:

–> Commonwealth Bank Series Win In 2008

–> Asia Cup Wins (2010, 2016)

–> Defeated New Zealand in New Zealand (2009)

–> Whitewashed Australia in Australia (T20s in 2016)

In total, Dhoni captained India in 199 ODIs, out of which the Men in Blue won 110 and lost 74. He also led India in 72 T20Is, of which they won 41 and lost 28.

“On the behalf of every Indian cricket fan and the BCCI, I would like to thank MS Dhoni for his outstanding contribution as the captain of the Indian team across all formats,” BCCI Chief Executive Rahul Johri said.

“Under his leadership, Indian team has touched new heights and his achievements will remain etched forever in the annals of Indian cricket.”

His last ODI series as a captain came against New Zealand, which India won 3-2. In T20Is, the Zimbabwe series in 2016, which India won 2-1, was his last as the skipper.

Theunis de Bruyn has been named in South Africa's 13-man squad for first two Tests vs Sri Lanka.
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South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2016/17: Uncapped Theunis de Bruyn Named In South Africa’s Squad, Morne Morkel Misses Out

Uncapped Theunis de Bruyn has been named in South Africa’s squad for the first two Tests against Sri Lanka, starting December 26. Meanwhile, fast-bowler Morne Morkel, who was in the squad for Australia series but didn’t get to play a single game, has been left out because of a back injury. 

The 24-year-old Bruyn, who comes in place of injured Rilee Rossouw, is considered to be a hard-hitting right-hander and a useful seam bowler. He has played 32 first-class matches so far and scored 2534 runs at a healthy average of 48.73 with six centuries and 14 half-centuries. In 31 List A matches, he has two centuries and five half-centuries to his name. In the 2015/16 season, Bruyn was the second highest run-getter for the Titans in the 20-over competition and third highest overall in first-class cricket with 602 runs at an average of 37.62. 

“De Bruyn is the latest player to be rewarded for consistently good form at franchise and South Africa A level,” commented CSA selection convener, Linda Zondi.

“He has an outstanding first-class career average of 48.73 (6 centuries) and has made 423 runs at 60.42 in this season’s Sunfoil Series four-day competition.

Rossouw, who is a regular member of South Africa’s ODI squad, hasn’t been considered due to a foot injury. Tabraiz Shamsi, left-arm wristspinner, has been left out while Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers – who resigned from South Africa’s Test captaincy earlier this week – have also been ruled out. De Villiers is currently recovering from his elbow injury while Steyn, who aggravated his shoulder injury during the Australia Tests, is expected to remain out of action for the first half of the next year. 

Wayne Parnell, who missed the Australia series due to a rib injury, has returned to the squad. 

“As far as the overall squad is concerned they deserve the fullest vote of confidence for their performances in the two recent test series against New Zealand and Australia and we are looking forward to more of the same against Sri Lanka.

“Credit to AB de Villiers for the smooth way the leadership transition has taken place. We certainly look forward to having him back for the limited overs portion of the tour. Faf has done an outstanding job in the last two test series and our leadership is in very good hands,” concluded Zondi.

South Africa will play three Tests against Sri Lanka followed by three T20Is and five ODIs. 

The last time Sri Lanka toured South Africa (in 2011-12), they lost both the Test and ODI series 2-1 and 3-2 respectively. 

South Africa Test squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.

keaton jennings
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IND v ENG: Uncapped Keaton Jennings, Liam Dawson Called Up To England’s Squad For Remaining Tests

Keaton Jennings, Durham opener, has been called up to England’s squad in place of Haseeb Hameed for the remaining two Tests against India at Mumbai and Chennai. Liam Dawson, who made his ODI and T20I debut earlier this year, has been named as Zafar Ansari’s replacement.

Keaton, son of Ray Jennings – former South Africa and Royal Challengers Bangalore coach – was named the 2016 County Championship player of the year, an award given by prestigious cricket writers’ club. He had a stellar season with 1548 runs under his belt at an awe-inspiring average of 64.50, including a double-ton against Yorkshire. Keaton, who is also ex-South Africa U-19 captain, is expected to open alongside Alastair Cook in Mumbai after a hand injury forced Hameed out of the series.

Haseeb Hameed, who made his Test debut at Rajkot, scored 219 runs in three Tests with two fifties, before a rising delivery from Umesh Yadav hit him badly on the little finger of his left hand. The opener will head home to have a surgery on the same.

On the other hand, Dawson, alongside Keaton, is expected to join the England squad early next week. Ansari, who suffered a back injury in the second Test at Vizag, will stay with the team for some more days to receive medical treatment in India. Last year also, Ansari – after being picked for the Pakistan series in the UAE – suffered a broken thumb and was ruled out of the tour.

Alastair Cook-led England are currently facing a lot of injury issues. As of now, there is no update on Stuart Broad, who missed the Mohali Test due to a foot injury. Meanwhile, Chris Woakes, who sustained a tiny crack on thumb, is a doubtful starter for the Mumbai Test.

Virat Kohli’s men are currently 2-0 up in the series. The fourth Test begins from December 8 at the historic Wankhede stadium.

Phil Hughes played 26 Tests and 25 ODIs for Australia.
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Two Years On – The Legacy Of Phillip Hughes

“As an ex-player I’m in awe of Phillip Hughes’s batting ability. At 25, he had 26 first-class hundreds and nine one-day hundreds. Statistically this is freakish. You can trust me on that,” said the former Australian southpaw Justin Langer in his tribute to Hughes.

Hailing from Macksville, the 20-year-old Hughes made his mark in international cricket in 2009 when he ripped apart the lethal Proteas bowling attack on a tough Durban track. As he became the youngest player ever to score two centuries in a Test, I strongly felt not only will this guy play 100+ Tests for Australia, but he’ll also score plenty of tons and that too daddy ones.

When some of Hughes’s technical flaws got exposed, especially his dismissals in identical fashion in slips in the home series against New Zealand in 2011, he didn’t back down. When mocked for same, Hughes, unlike any other Australian, preferred to stay calm and maintain his focus on getting things right. Never for once he complained and that’s why he was loved by public for his fighting spirit and boisterous nature. In 2013, he became the first Australian player to score a hundred on ODI debut and the very next year, he hit the first List A double ton for his country as well.

When Hughes was all set to get a Test call-up in place of injured Michael Clarke for India series, a bouncer hit him on the back of his head during a Sheffield Shield match and he never regained consciousness after that. On November 27, 2014, Hughes tragically passed away (three days before his birthday), leaving the cricketing fraternity in utter pain.

David Warner's attitude towards the game now stands as a tribute to Phil Hughes.
David Warner’s attitude towards the game now stands as a tribute to Phil Hughes.

The incident not only affected his family but left a deep scar on the Australian team and everyone around. From being a pack of dogs showing ruthless aggression, having threatened opposition of suffering broken arms, we could see a sense of concern the moment an opponent got hit by a ball. Be it India’s Virat Kohli or England’s Eoin Morgan, the concern was genuine and impact of Hughes’s incident was evident. It also gave Australia an additional incentive ahead of the ICC World Cup 2015. They didn’t just had to win it for themselves, they had to win it for him.

What happened to Hughes had a huge impact on Mitchell Johnson, at least as a lethal fast bowler. Throughout the 2013/14 Ashes and the South Africa tour that followed, the left-arm pacer was in the form of his life – 59 wickets in eight Tests. But after Hughes’ unfortunate demise, he never looked the same.

In case of David Warner who opened alongside Hughes for New South Wales, he became a different man altogether. His attitude towards the game now stands as a tribute to his friend.

I wish I could have seen you bat a lot more, wish you had scored more centuries, wish to got to know you more. Rest in Peace Phil! You are missed badly.

Never known anyone who I have just seen play and analysed (his game) made so many grown ups cry.  

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