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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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Happy Birthday Captain Cool: India celebrates as MS Dhoni turns 39

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From veterans to present day’s superstars to fans, cricket fraternity has thronged to social media to celebrate the 39th birthday of the former and most successful captain of the Indian cricket team Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday.

Hailed as one of the greatest-ever captains in the history of the sport, Dhoni has won everything that a captain can win while playing cricket and remains the only international skipper to achieve the feat.

He has led team India to a ICC World T20 glory in 2007, ICC World Cup victory in 2011 before completing his ICC success with the Champions Trophy in 2013. He even took the Test team to the pinnacle of the ranking and earned the prestigious ICC Test Mace, becoming the first Indian captain to do that.

However, it had never been only about his leadership skill that made him the living legend he is today. Much before he became captain, the superstar in him had already taken birth, thanks to his powerful strokeplay and ice-cool determination to win matches from the jaws of defeat.

Apart from being one of the greatest limited-overs batsmen of this generation,  Dhoni is also India’s best-ever gloveman behind the stumps. His impeccable wicketkeeping skills have placed him beside the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Kumar Sangakkara and Mark Boucher as one of the best to have donned the keeping gloves.

Its been almost a year that he has been away from the cricket field, yet conversations about his return or future retirement have never died out in the time since and he still remains one of the most talked about cricketers in the present era.

Several members of the Indian cricket fraternity took to Twitter to wish Dhoni on his special day.

“Happy birthday to my Bittu from your Chittu. My friend who has taught me to be a better human being and stood by me in bad times MS Dhoni,” India all-rounder Hardik Pandya wrote on Twitter.

“Happy birthday to MS Dhoni…a true leader who led from front, a true brother who stands for his real brothers. A true fighter till the last ball in play. Thanks a lot brother for such great moments with me…loved every advise given to me and team,” S Sreesanth said.

“Many more happy returns of the day to a man whose composure and patience continues to be an inspiration,” wrote VVS Laxman.

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Indian Olympic Association chief urges country to celebrate Olympic Day

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Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra has encouraged the nation to celebrate Olympic Day on 23 June. He stated that there is a need to participate in such events to make India into an active sports participation nation.

Olympic Day is celebrated every year on 23 June since 1948 to mark the beginning of the modern-day Olympic Games.

“One way of making India embark on a journey from a sports-watching nation to a more active sports-participating nation is to commemorate such milestones in such a manner that people around the Olympic community would be inspired to play any sport of their choice,” he was quoted as saying by the Olympic Channel on their official website.

“There are countless ways in which we can do this, even with the social-distancing restrictions in place. It could be some form of physical activity that each of us undertakes. It could even be a way of encouragement to Olympic sport.”

“I urge India’s Olympic medallists and Olympians to lead the celebrations. It would be delightful to see our educational institutions get the student community involved,” he added.

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Tokyo 2020 CEO says 80% of venues secured for Olympics

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Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto stated on Friday has stated that 80 per cent of the competition venues have been secured for the rescheduled Olympic Games in 2021.

Muto told reporters that the secured events for the biggest sporting festival on the planet include the new National Stadium and that there ongoing talks to secure other facilities. The same has been confirmed in a report by Xinhua news agency. (via IANS)

“We will hopefully try to use the same venues,” he said. “The adjustment still remains but we are able to use 80 per cent of the facilities we were originally supposed to use.”

Muto warned that there was no guarantee that the Games would be able to take place in the summer of 2021, but he also stated that all measures would be taken to host the Games with the highest standard of safety, in case it happens.

“I don’t think there is anyone that can really promise that the Olympics and Paralympics will be held in 2021 for sure, 100 per cent in any circumstance,” he said.

“But we need to show the commitment that we will be opening the Games next year.”

“As long as we have sufficient measures against COVID-19, we will make sure the Games are held in 2021.”

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