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ICC World Cup 2019: India’s all-time World Cup XI – Virat Kohli misses out

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“As a young boy I dreamt of winning this trophy; that’s where it all started,” said the cricketer who has perhaps had the biggest impact on the sport globally. These words of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who finally became a world champion in his sixth attempt in 2011, are an apt reflection of what the showpiece event means to cricketers and cricket fans across the globe.

For many kids in India the sport turned into an obsession after Kapil Dev and his team’s landmark win in the 1983 tournament. That victory changed the narrative of the sport forever, shifting its nerve centre from England to the subcontinent, as limited overs cricket zoomed ahead of Tests in terms of popularity.

The 1987 World Cup was the true marker of this paradigm shift as the showpiece event moved out of England for the first time and was jointly hosted by India and Pakistan. Every four years Indian fans waited with bated breath for the team to repeat the success of 1983 and the moment arrived 28 years later. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was immortalised in the annals of Indian cricket history as he hit the winning six at the Wankhede Stadium in the final against Sri Lanka.

As the country gets ready to cheer for the ‘Men in Blue’ in the upcoming World Cup, we bring to you India’s all-time World Cup XI, comprising players who we think have had the maximum impact on India’s World Cup campaigns. Another important factor that has been kept in mind while compiling this list is whether it will stand the test of time.

1) Sachin Tendulkar – (2278 runs @ 56.95 with 6 centuries and 15 half-centuries)

It is difficult to look past this man while compiling any kind of XI in cricket. Tendulkar’s impact on Indian cricket and on the World Cup can be gauged from the fact that he tops the all-time run charts and finished as the highest run-getter in the 1996 and 2003 tournaments. He was also India’s highest run-getter in the victorious 2011 campaign and is the best ODI batsman of all-time.

Sachin was no slouch with the ball either and on his day, could either bowl spin or seam depending on the conditions on offer, which was a great cushion to have for the captain.

2) Sourav Ganguly – (1006 runs @ 55.88 with 4 centuries and 3 half-centuries)

The man who led India to their second ever World Cup final is perhaps one of the finest ODI openers of all time. Ganguly stamped his class on the global tournament with a 97 against South Africa on his World Cup debut in 1999 and finished the tournament as India’s second highest run-getter. The campaign also includes the memorable 183 against Sri Lanka in Taunton. He also played a crucial role with the ball in the must-win match against England. In 2003, Ganguly’s timely century against Kenya in the semi-final paved the way for a summit clash with Australia. He was also India’s second-highest scorer in an otherwise disastrous 2007 campaign.

3) Rahul Dravid – (860 runs @ 61.42 with 2 centuries and 6 half-centuries)

Picked ahead of the finest ODI batsman of this generation, Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid’s case is bolstered by his numbers and the ability to be the back-up wicket-keeper in the playing XI. Dravid was the highest run-getter in the 1999 tournament and played crucial knocks in the middle order in the 2003 event. Also, with two flamboyant openers at the top, Dravid’s ability to drop anchor makes him a perfect fit for the number three slot.

4) Mohinder Amarnath – (254 runs @ 21.16 and 16 wickets @ 26.93)

The man behind India’s 1983 success, Mohinder Amarnath cannot and should not be judged by his numbers alone. His ability as a batsman goes way beyond his numbers as he had a limited role to play with the willow in the three tournaments. The proverbial ‘man with the golden arm’ Amarnath’s bowling efforts saw India win the semi-final and the final of the 83 event. He is also part of an elite group of players who won the ‘Man of the Match’ award in the semi-final and final of the same event.

5) Mohammed Azharuddin – (826 runs @ 39.33 with 8 half-centuries)

He captained India in three World Cups, which includes a semi-final finish in 1996 at home. A pillar of strength in the middle order, Azhar walks into the team due to his ability to be both a gatherer as well as a finisher. He made handy contributions in the 1987 campaign, which ended with a semi-final defeat to England.

6) Yuvraj Singh – (738 runs @ 52.71 & 20 wickets @ 23.10)

The southpaw is the spinning all-rounder in the team and walks into the XI on the back of a ‘Man of the Series’ showing in the victorious 2011 campaign. Yuvraj Singh’s ability to pick up wickets and also control runs makes him a handy part-timer to have in the side. Played several crucial knocks with the bat in the 2003 and 2011 tournaments.

7) MS Dhoni – (507 runs @ 42.25 with 3 half-centuries) – Vice-captain

Arguably the finest ODI wicket-keeper batsman of all-time and one of the best captains ever, MS Dhoni took India back to the zenith of ODI cricket with a title at home in 2011. His ability to read match situations from behind the stumps and turn the tide for his team with the bat makes him indispensable for any side. His brilliance was on view even in the 2015 tournament when he led India to a semi-final finish.

8) Kapil Dev – (669 runs @ 37.16 & 28 wickets @ 31.85) – Captain

The agent of change in Indian cricket, Kapil Dev was at his all-round best in the victorious 1983 campaign. Leading from the front, Kapil saved India from exiting the tournament with a brilliant 175 with his backs to the wall against Zimbabwe. While he remains India’s finest paceman ever, the catch that he took in the final to dismiss a rampant Vivian Richards remains a defining moment in the history of ODI cricket.

9) Javagal Srinath – (44 wickets @ 27.81)

A tireless soldier who represented India in four World Cups, Srinath was the leader of the attack in 1996, 1999 and 2003. With a semi-final and a final finish to his name, the right-arm paceman was the go to man for his captains in his heydays. His performance in the 2003 tournament, apart from the final, at the fag end of his career remains one of the high points of his journey as an international cricketer.

10) Anil Kumble – (31 wickets @ 22.83)

Anil Kumble continues to be the top tweaker for India at the showpiece event and is the lone full-time spinner in the squad. He finished the 1996 tournament as the highest wicket-taker but performances in the rest of the campaigns weren’t anything to write home about.

11) Zaheer Khan – (44 wickets @ 20.22)

The left-arm paceman is tied with Srinath for the most number of wickets for an Indian bowler, but he took far less number of matches to reach the feat. The spearhead of the attack in 2011, Zaheer was at his potent best on the flat subcontinental surfaces, finishing the tournament as the joint-highest wicket-taker. He was lethal even in the 2003 campaign as a young speedster.

12) Virat Kohli – (587 runs @ 41.92 with 2 centuries and 1 half-century)

The current Indian captain is the 12th man and misses out on a place just on the basis of the impact he has had in the two tournaments he played so far. Kohli’s World Cup debut was a grand one as he scored a century against Bangladesh, but his moment came in 2015 when he reached Australia as India’s batting spearhead. But apart from a century against Pakistan, Kohli didn’t have any other significant contribution in the campaign. Indian fans though would believe that this is the tournament that Kohli will stamp his class on.

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MS Dhoni army training: David Lloyd’s cheeky Twitter post leaves fans fuming

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A lot has been said about former India captain MS Dhoni’s decision to opt out of the upcoming tour of West Indies and his desire to train with the parachute regiment of the Territorial army. From speculations about retirement to his future role has been debated by pundits and fans alike.

Former England cricketer and commentator David Lloyd’s response to the news on Twitter though was quite cheeky. Lloyd responded to a tweet by Sky Sports Cricket with two ‘face with tears of joy’ emoticons and that has not gone down well with Dhoni’s fans.

Fans have slammed Lloyd for disrespecting Dhoni’s decision and there have been many angry reactions to the tweet. The wicket-keeper batsman had requested the Indian Army to allow him to train with a territorial army battalion of the Parachute regiment for two months. “The request has now been approved by the Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat and the honorary Lt Col would train with the Parachute regiment battalion,” top Army sources told ANI.

The Army, however, will not allow Dhoni, who holds an honorary post of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army, to be part of any active operation, sources mentioned. India will tour West Indies for three T20Is and as many ODIs, and two Tests which are part of World Test Championship from August 3 to September 3.

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‘MS Dhoni not retiring from cricket now,’ says top BCCI official – Report

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MS Dhoni, the former India captain, on Saturday made himself “unavailable” for India’s tour of West Indies which gave rise to the ‘has Dhoni retired?’ question but much to the relief of his billions of fans, Dhoni has ruled out immediate retirement a day before the selectors meet in Mumbai to pick the three squads for the upcoming away series, starting on August 3.

Amid mounting speculation around his international retirement after India’s semi-final exit from the recent World Cup, Dhoni has told the BCCI that he will take a two-month sabbatical from the game to serve his paramilitary regiment.

Dhoni is an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army, “We would like to clarify three things. MS Dhoni is not retiring from cricket right now. He is taking a two month sabbatical to serve his paramilitary regiment which he had committed much earlier. We have now intimated his decision to skipper Virat Kohli and chairman of selectors MSK Prasad,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on Saturday.

The 38-year-old Dhoni’s refusal to take retirement now leaves the ball in the court of the selectors, who were expected to drop him from the squad for the West Indies. India will play three T20 Internationals, as many ODIs and two Tests in the tour starting August 3. It is believed that the selection committee chaired by MSK Prasad wants to move forward with an eye on future but they would also like to get a sense of where the Indian captain stands on this issue.

“The selection committee has always been clear on one issue. They have no right to tell anyone irrespective of their stature as to when they should call it quits but when it comes to team selection, it remains their domain,” a senior BCCI official said.

With Dhoni pulling out of the tour, Rishabh Pant is expected to be first wicketkeeper in all three formats while Wriddhiman Saha will be Pant’s understudy in the Tests.

From now, the focus will be more on T20 cricket keeping the World T20 in mind, which is scheduled to be held in Australia next year.

India will be playing a lot of bilateral three-match T20 series in run-up to the global meet and with Dhoni expected to play one more season of IPL with Chennai Super Kings, things are a bit tricky at the moment.

There are a few questions that the selectors need to answer.

Whether they see Dhoni playing till World T20? If the answer is yes, are they willing to give him 15 to 18 T20s during the phase as a keeper-batsman? If that answer is also yes, it would boil down to whether skipper Virat Kohli sees him as a batsman in T20s where keeping isn’t the primary skill required.

With Dhoni’s ever-declining hitting abilities, can he come in at Nos 6 or 7 where he might, at best, get 6 to 8 balls in most games and even less in some? If that answer is also yes, the next question that would crop up is if he can hit the likes of Jofra Archer, Jason Behrendorff or Mohammed Amir straightaway in the slog overs. There is a case about Dhoni’s stellar success in death overs at the IPL. He always gets one weak Indian bowler — say a Mohammed Siraj, Harshal Patel or Dhawal Kulkarni or Sandeep Sharma from whom he scores those 15 to 20-run overs.

But would that be possible against a Lockie Ferguson or a Pat Cummins? The current selection committee’s term ends in October when the BCCI elections are scheduled and they would like to put a transition phase in place in consonance with what the captain and the coach want.

However, once the board members take over after the elections and if Dhoni decides to stick with his decision of not retiring, there could be some twists and turns in the coming months.

Till then, all roads lead to the BCCI headquarters on Sunday where Prasad will address the most defining press conference of his eventful tenure.

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Sachin Tendulkar suggests unique alternative to ICC’s boundary rules to decide winner

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The final of World Cup 2019 saw a controversial ending with the hosts England being declared the winners after the Super Over against New Zealand ended in a tie. The Eoin Morgan-led side had scored higher number of boundaries in the regulation overs, and as per ICC rules, won the match and were crowned as the champions. As the debate over the rule carries on, India cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar came up with a unique alternative to decide the winner.

“I feel there should be another super over to decide the winner, instead of considering the number of boundaries scored by both teams. Not just in a World Cup final. Every game is important. Like in football, when teams go into extra time, nothing else matters,” Tendulkar was quoted saying by 100mb.

“No one lost the final,” New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said Tuesday as his team tried coming to terms with the gut-wrenching defeat against England in the World Cup’s greatest summit clash. Cricketers, current and former, shared New Zealand’s pain on losing the title on boundary count with many of them asking for a “serious look” into the rule, slammed as “absurd”.

“At the end of the day nothing separated us, no one lost the final, but there was a crowned winner and there it is,” Williamson told Newstalk ZB.

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