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MS Dhoni retirement leaves a void in world cricket

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The uncertainties leading up to the retirement of Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be forgotten soon enough, and what will remain are the certainties and the pride of performance over the years.

Should he have retired earlier? Or at least should he have cleared the air earlier?

It does not matter. Dhoni was under no compulsion to make it easier for everybody else, especially those whose job it is to tie up careers neatly and move on to the next big thing.

It is likely that Dhoni might continue to play in the IPL. It is a tournament he enjoys, playing for a team he loves whose fans return the love many times over.

A man who has played 90 Tests, 350 one-dayers and 98 T20s will, naturally, be missed.

This in addition to being the country’s most successful captain, taking India to the No 1 ranking and leading them to a World Cup win after 28 years (2011), the World T20 (2007) which set up the IPL revolution and the Champions Trophy (2013).

In white ball cricket he is one of the all-time greats, his 84 undefeated innings pushing his average above 50 in one-day internationals. Only Ricky Ponting has led his team, Australia, to more wins. Dhoni has led in and won more matches than any other captain in T20 internationals.

He led India in the most number of Tests, 60, and was only recently overtaken by Virat Kohli as the most successful.

Dhoni’s reign had a profound impact on Indian cricket, and not just in terms of statistics.

He rose from what was then a backwater of Indian cricket – the eastern city of Ranchi – and continued the work begun by a predecessor, Sourav Ganguly, who turned to the non-traditional cricketing centres and discovered players of international standard.

Dhoni’s elevation as captain continued a process begun with the aristocrats – the maharajahs and nawabs – who led in the early years, the middle-class players (often bankers) who followed and then the small-town talent who spread the game; this in some ways reflecting the evolution of Indian society itself.

He was eight years old when Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut, and within months of his taking over Tendulkar was saying, “I am delighted with the way Dhoni has conducted himself. He is a balanced guy with a sharp brain.”

Dhoni was easily accepted by the seniors in the side, a tribute both to his potential and fairness.

He learnt from his predecessors. From Rahul Dravid under whom he played 19 Tests and Anil Kumble under whom he played 10. These two men from the southern state of Karnataka brought to the job a rare intelligence, tactical nous and man management skills. “I want a team,” Dhoni once said, “that can stand before an advancing truck.” And he worked at building just such a team.

As a player, the amazing thing about Dhoni was what might look inadequate in another player, a gimmick even, worked well for him.

Ex-India keeper Syed Kirmani said initially he lacked “copybook basics” as a wicketkeeper and criticised his habit of standing on his heels to receive the ball rather than on his toes. The corkscrew on-drive or “helicopter” shot was uniquely Dhoni’s. It was seldom imitated because it was inimitable.

Retirement is a difficult thing, both for the player and his team.

In the first Test following Sunil Gavaskar’s retirement, India were bowled out for 75 by the West Indies and went on to lose by five wickets. It was another 19 Tests before India had a century opening partnership. That’s one side of the coin.

Here’s the other: after Tendulkar was caught at slip in his final Test innings, the new batsman Virat Kohli struck the next ball for four.

The symbolism was inescapable. The king is dead, long live the king.

Dhoni, as he prepares to leave the international scene, can take comfort in the fact that his successors are already in place.

He leaves Indian cricket in a good place – back as the best team in the world with a captain who is as hot (if one might be pardoned that expression) as he himself was cool, but just as successful; and new wicketkeepers ready to take over.

He will be missed for his remarkable self-control, his ability to change the tempo of a match either through sustained hitting or dour defence, and his manner of encouraging the bowlers, especially the spinners, from behind the wicket.

In the latter half of his career, he appeared at times to have eyes in the back of his head with his ability to run out batsman behind him without looking at the stumps.

He also patented a way of avoiding the recoil with his practised manner of either taking the edge from the bat or the throw from the field without wasting time having to take his hands back with the ball. It is a significant contribution to the art of wicketkeeping. Anything that saves time.

In 15 years, Dhoni played 538 internationals, scored over 17,000 runs, averaged 45 with a strike rate of nearly 80, held 634 catches and effected 195 stumpings.

Only five players in the history of the game have played more internationals; only one of them was a wicketkeeper, and none of them led in as many matches as Dhoni did.

His will be tough boots to fill. But Dhoni’s legacy goes beyond figures and reflects the arc of India’s societal transformation.

It will include the self-confidence he brought to large hitherto ignored sections of the population, and emphasise the old-fashioned dignity and respect he brought to the game and its players.

(BBC)

 



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Anuga, Rajindu shine with centuries

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Under 17 Division I Cricket  

by Reemus Fernando  

Wesley’s Anuga Pahansara and Rajindu Thilakaratna of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia scored match defining centuries as their schools reached the quarter-finals of the Under 17 Division I cricket tournament yesterday.

In the pre-quarter-finals played yesterday, St. Joseph’s, De Mazenod, St. Anthony’s (Wattala), Moratu Vidyalaya, S. Thomas’, Wesley, Mahanama, Gurukula, St. Benedict’s, Mahinda and St. Peter’s registered victories to confirm their places in the quarter-finals of the Division I tournament.

Anuga Pahansara’s century was crucial in setting up the stage for Wesley to post 240 runs before off spinner Rashmika Amararathna and left-arm spinner Jathon Wieman joined to reduce St. Sebastian’s to 117 runs at Moratuwa.

For S. Thomas’ Thilakaratna anchored the batting line up with an unbeaten century (101 runs in 132 balls, 13x4s, 1×6) and put on a fourth wicket stand of 116 runs with Dineth Goonawardena for them to record a five wickets win over President’s College at Kotte.

The day’s lowest score came in the match between St. Joseph’s and Holy Cross as paceman Maanasa Madubashana and spinner Yenula Dewthusa rattled the visitors for 43 runs at Darley Road.

Match Results  

St. Joseph’s beat Holy Cross at Darley Road  

Scores: 

Holy Cross 43 all out in 28.2 overs (Akash Gamage 15; Maanasa Madubashana 4/16, Yenula Dewthusa 3/09) 

St. Joseph’s 46 for 2 in 8 overs (Sahan Dabare 22)  

De Mazenod beat St. Servatius’ at Kandana

St. Servatius ’ 139 all out in 44 overs (Risinu Kithnuka 36, Raveen Kavintha 28n.o.; Jude Shenal 3/37, Thareen Sanketh 3/25) 

De Mazenod 143 for 1 in 30 overs (Kenul Dhananjaya 82n.o., Janith Karindra 22, Hasintha Dasunpriya 30n.o.) 

St. Anthony’s (Wattala) beat St. Sylvester’s at Lake View Scores: 

St. Anthony’s Wattala 148 all out in 48.3 overs (Shehara Dewthilina 21,  Chamod Sandeepa 47, Dilanka Madushan 29; Kashyapa Dissanayake 2/35, Thimira Liyanage 4/24, Nimesha Silva 3/31) 

St. Sylvester’s 126 all out in 30.3 overs (Yoshitha Isuranga 47, Dilanka Madushan 3/36, Chamod Sandeepa 3/16) 

Moratu Vidyalaya beat Thurstan at Moratuwa  Scores: 

Moratu MV 289 for 6 in 50 overs (Hasindu Senanayaka 41, Deneth Sithumina 87, Dulen Silva 48, Malith Fernando 22, Shehara Fernando 49n.o.; Thanuga Palihawadana  

Thurstan 244 for 9 in 50 overs (Kaushala Balasooriya 30, Thanuga Palihawadana 53, Vihas Thewmika 85; Vihanga Nethsara 4/40, Malith Fernando 4/44) 

S. Thomas’ beat President’s at Kotte  Scores: 

Presidents 226 all out in 47.1 overs (Dinal Induwara 61, Tanuja Rajapakse 55, Punsara Nethmina 29, Kaveesha Yashmika 25; Achintha Rumean 3/35, Darien Diego 2/21, Kavindu Dias 2/39, Dineth Goonawardena 2/40 

S. Thomas ’ 227 for 5 in 47.3 overs (Rajindu Thilakaratna 101n.o., Dineth Goonawardena 48; Sanithu Nethmina 4/50) 

Wesley beat St. Sebastian’s at Moratuwa  Scores: 

Wesley 240 for 8 in 50 overs (Anuga Pahansara 104, Senila Senarathne 36, Rukshan Tharanga 29, Manuth Samarakoon 28; Malindu Daham 2/43, Maheesha Sithum 2/44) 

St. Sebastian’s 117 all out in 42.4 overs (Vihanga Theekashana 47, Venuth Kavimira 28, Rashmika Amararathna 4/07, Jathon Wieman 3/17, Ravindu Sigera 2/29) 

St. Peter’s beat Maliyadeva at Kurunegala  Scores: 

St. Peter’s  247 for 8 in 50 overs (Dilana Damsara 68, Nethan David 35, Ethan Ransiluge 27, Ovin Salgadu 23, Erosh Peterson 27, Sasindu Silva 29n.o.; Thaveesha Balasooriya 3/45, Vinuda Mapa 3/52) 

Maliyadewa 205 all out in 48.5 overs (Sandeepa Bandara 66, Vinuda Mapa 42; Lashmika Perera 2/26, Dilana Damsara 3/35, Salith Gallage 3/49) 

 Mahanama  beat Prince of Wales at Moratuwa   Scores: 

Mahanama 243 for 9 in 50 overs (Dulnith Sigera 59, Gimantha Dissanayake 56, Sithika Kulathunga 24, Uden Rajapaksha 22; Prince Fernando 4/40, Nishel Hewajulige 2/24)

Prince of Wales 159 all out in 39.3 overs (Rivith Jayasuriya 54, Kenul de Zoysa 39, Oshan Maneesha 24; Dulnith Sigera 2/20, Osanda Muthugama 4/20, Sihan Karunarathne 2/25) 

St. Benedict’s  beat Vidyartha at Kotahena  Scores: 

Vidyartha 167 for 9 in 50 overs (Pubudu Tharaka 23, Nishmika Kaveesha 57n.o.; Mevan Dissanayake 3/25) 

St. Benedict’s 168 for 1 in 49.2 overs (Dumindu Yehen 38, Yohan Edirisinghe 22, Sharujan Shanmuganathan 23, Onesh Michael 29n.o.; Kalana Kumarasiri 4/23) 

Gurukula beat St. Anthony’s (Katugastota) at Wattala Scores: 

Gurukula 261 for 8 in 50 overs (Thathsara Eshan 80, Pasindu Dilshan 37, Daham Vimukthi 28, Janith Mihiranga 42n.o.; Tharusha Dasun 2/57, Senura Abeysekara 3/37) 

St. Anthony’s 127 all out in 34.1 overs (Januka Bandara 34, Dinura Oshan 30; Tharusha Kodikara 3/31, Hiruna Fernando 3/18) 

Mahinda beat Maris Stella at Galle Scores: 

Maris Stella 187 all out in 47.5 overs (Levin Fernando 55, Mineth Fernando 31; Arosha Udayanga 4/20, Senuka Dangamuwa 2/31, Nikil Jayaweera 2/29) 

Mahinda 188 for 5 in 35.1 overs (Nikil Jayaweera 52, Dineth Pahasara 32, Senuka Dangamuwa 50n.o.; Hasthika de Silva 2/27, Ramith Bandara 2/18) 

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Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo join UAE’s ILT20

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Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Nicholas Pooran are the latest big names from the Caribbean to sign up for the UAE’s International League T20 (ILT20), along with Sri Lanka’s Dasun Shanaka, England’s Ollie Pope and Afghanistan’s Fazalhaq Farooqi.

The league also said that its six franchises – owned by Reliance Industries, Kolkata Knight Riders, Capri Global, GMR, Lancer Capital, and Adani Sportsline – have finalised contracting players through the “directly acquire players” option, though the details of who has gone to which team is not yet known.

Some of the other latest signings up for the ILT20 are: Will Smeed, Rehan Ahmed, Jordan Thompson, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Bas de Leede, Chris Benjamin and Bilal Khan.

The ILT20 is set to begin in January next year in the UAE and is competing with South Africa’s T20 League for players.

On August 8, the ILT20 had announced its first list of signed players which included Andre Russell, Moeen Ali, Wanindu Hasaranga, Alex Hales, Shimron Hetmyer, Chris Jordan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Dawid Malan, Sunil Narine, Evin Lewis, Colin Munro, Fabian Allen, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Dushmantha Chameera, Akeal Hosein, Tom Banton, Sandeep Lamichhane, Rovman Powell, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Lahiru Kumara, Seekugge Prassanna, Charith Asalanka, Isuru Udana, Niroshan Dickwella, Kennar Lewis, Ravi Rampaul, Raymon Reifer, Dominic Drakes, Sherfane Rutherford, Hazratullah Zazai, Qais Ahmad, Noor Ahmed, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Naveen-ul-Haq, Dan Lawrence, Jamie Overton, Liam Dawson, Richard Gleeson, James Vince, Saqib Mahmood, Ben Duckett, Benny Howell, Blessing Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza, Brandon Glover, Frederick Klaasen, David Wiese, Ruben Trumpelmann, Colin Ingram, George Munsey, Paul Stirling and Ali Khan.

Each squad of 18 will have two players from Associate countries and four players from the UAE.

There have been suggestions that the space for Pakistani players in the league might be limited because franchises owned by IPL owners were wary of picking them for worries of a backlash in India. One ILT20 official said the franchise owned by Lancer Capital – the Glazers family that owns Manchester United – were still hopeful of signing up some Pakistan players, though the official acknowledged that not getting the NOCs from the PCB might be the obstacle. The PCB said in a statement last week that two Pakistan players had applied for NOCs to play in the league but were not granted them because the board expected the players to be involved in Pakistan’s home season.

The 2023 edition of the ILT20 will have 34 matches – all the teams will play each other twice, before four playoffs, including the final – spread across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

(Cricinfo)

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Bowlers, Balbirnie steer Ireland to comfortable win

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Josh Little, Mark Adair, Curtis Campher and Gareth Delany picked up two wickets each before Andy Balbirnie’s 46 off 36 balls broke the back of a 123-run chase to give Ireland a five-wicket win in the second T20I in Belfast. The hosts now lead the five-match series 2-0.

Afghanistan opted to bat first for the second time in two games but their innings never really took off. Both openers – Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Usman Ghani – were back in the pavilion by the third over. At the end of ten overs, they were hobbling at 62 for 4. The second half of the innings was no different and they finished with 122 for 8. Extras, with 19, the second-highest contributor.

Afghanistan needed early wickets to put Ireland under pressure but Balbirnie ensured that didn’t happen. The target was never going to challenge Ireland, and Afghanistan’s sloppy fielding made their task even easier. That meant despite a late wobble, they won with an over to spare.

For the first time in his T20I career, Rashid Khan went wicketless in back-to-back games. After none for 25 in the first T20I, he ended with none for 27 from his four overs today.

On what Mohammad Nabi described as a dry pitch at the toss, the Ireland seamers found movement as well as extra bounce with the new ball to pick up three wickets in the powerplay.

Adair struck with the first ball of the second over as Gurbaz sliced a full delivery to short third. In the next over, Little got one to jag back in to Ghani. The batter was looking for a cut but was cramped and ended up chopping the ball onto his stumps.

Ibrahim Zadran walked in at No. 4 and tried to up the scoring rate. He took on Barry McCarthy, hitting the seamer for three fours in his first over. In the next over, he steered Campher to the deep-third boundary for his fourth four in nine balls. However, a stunning catch from Andy McBrine cut short his counterattacking knock. Ibrahim tried to loft Curtis over wide long-on on the final ball of the powerplay but ended up miscuing it towards deep midwicket. McBrine sprinted in from the deep and put in a full-length dive to take the ball just above the ground, leaving Afghanistan 41 for 3 at the end of six overs.

Afghanistan needed a partnership to stabilise the innings; instead, they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Najibullah Zadran started in his usual positive manner, reverse-sweeping McBrine for a four, but ended up uppercutting Campher straight to deep point soon after. Nabi didn’t last long either and holed out to long-on for 9 against Delany.

Hashmatullah Shahidi did occupy one end but struggled for timing throughout his 42-ball 36. Ironically, when he nailed a reverse sweep, it went straight into the hands of deep point. With Rashid failing to provide any fireworks, Afghanistan could manage only 22 from the last four overs.

Ireland lost Paul Stirling early in their chase and were 8 for 1 after three overs, but Balbirnie struck four fours in the next 11 balls to calm the nerves. A couple of overs later, he swept Mujeeb Ur Rahman in front of square leg for the first six of the match.

Along with Lorcan Tucker, he added 65 off 54 balls for the second wicket; Tucker’s contribution was 19 off 20 balls. Mujeeb eventually broke that stand when Balbirnie attempted a fine sweep but the ball lobbed up off the back of the bat and Gurbaz pouched it.

With 42 required from as many balls, Nabi brought himself on for the first time in the 14th over and made an immediate impact. In the space of four balls, he sent back Harry Tector and Tucker. But his second over, which featured four leg-byes, went for 13. That left Ireland with 20 needed from 24 balls. Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen gave away only 12 in the next two overs, with Farooqi also dismissing Campher. But George Dockrell kept his calm. On the final ball of the 19th over, bowled by Farooqi, he chipped a full toss over wide long-on to seal the game with a six.

Brief scores

Ireland 125 for 5 (Andy Balbirnie 46, Lorcan Tucker 27, Mohammad Nabi 2-15) beat Afghanistan 122 for 8 (Hashmatullah Shahidi 36, Ibrahim Zadran 17, Mark Adair 2-12, Curtis Campher 2-13) by five wickets

(Cricinfo)

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