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Afghanistan wants Indian players for T20 league, BCCI unlikely to allow

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Mumbai :The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) launched its very own franchise-based T20 league, to be held in the UAE in October, but the BCCI is expected to maintain its current stand of not allowing Indian players to turn freelancers.

The ACB claims that 40 overseas cricketers have shown interest in the league to be staged in Sharjah from 5-24 October.

While the top officials of Afghanistan board wanted BCCI to allow at least its non-contracted players to take part in the inaugural edition, India won’t make exceptions for one particular private league, even though it is a venture of a long-time ally.

 

The BCCI has not allowed its cricketers to play in any T20 league outside the IPL and it is unlikely to change its stance for the Afghanistan Premier League (APL).

“I am not talking about the current Indian cricketers here but it will be great if the other Indian players can come and play in our league,” ACB CEO Shafiqullah Stanikzai told PTI.

“I will speak to the BCCI officials on the subject but honestly it looks tough at the moment,” he added.

India has contributed significantly to the rapid growth of Afghanistan cricket. The Afghanistan team trains in India and has home grounds in Greater Noida and now Dehradun. India will also be hosting Afghanistan’s inaugural Test in June in Bengaluru.

“India has always lent a helping hand to its friend Afghanistan and will continue to do so. The ACB officials have not so far come to us on participation of our players in their league. Honestly speaking, it will be tough to allow the players at this stage. If we allow one, we have to give clearance to everyone,” a senior BCCI official told PTI.

In a first, the BCCI had issued a NOC to Yusuf Pathan to play in a Hong Kong league last year but revoked it later.

Talking more about the APL, Stanikzai said the league will be a five-team affair initially and will comprise 24 games in a home and away format.

“Most probably we will have a draft system to pick the players, not the auction. The interest from investors have been encouraging so far and there are some Indian franchisees too who have shown interest,” said Stanikzai.

The ACB already organises Shpageeza Cricket League at home but it is mainly a domestic event.

“With the APL, we aim to give exposure to our players to rub shoulders against the best in the world. It will also help the economy of our cricket. We see APL becoming one of the top-three leagues in the world,” Stanikzai added.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai said the league will further fuel the game’s growth in the country.

“The league will help us produce more world-class players and at a much faster pace as compared to now,” he told PTI.


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Sharapova eliminates Wozniacki; Federer cruises

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London: Maria Sharapova scorched the Rod Laver Arena with her aggressive tennis to eliminate defending Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the third round on Friday.

Five-times Grand Slam champion Sharapova, who won her last major at the 2014 French Open, hit 37 winners against 10 from her opponent and converted her second matchpoint to set up a fourth round clash against Australia number one Ashleigh Barty.

Sharapova, who won the Australian Open in 2008, headed into the match with a 6-4 lead in their previous meetings and went for her shots from the first point making it difficult for the third-ranked Dane with a game built on defence.

 

“I thought the level was quite high. She is the defending champion of this event and it’s no secret she loves this arena,” Sharapova said in a courtside interview.

“These are the types of matches I train for so it’s really rewarding to win that last point. I’m definitely not walking around thinking I have experience and think they’re just going to give it to me.”

Wozniacki had the first break but handed the advantage back with a double fault before the Russian 30th seed, who was suspended for 15 months for taking banned drug meldonium in 2016, won three consecutive games to take the set.

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Have never given my biopic a thought:Ganguly

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Mumbai : A few months ago, it was reported that Balaji Telefilms’ digital arm was planning a biopic based on Sourav Ganguly’s book A Century is Not Enough. The book, co-authored by the cricketer himself chronicles his unforgettable journey from Kolkata’s Biren Roy Road to the Indian Premier League. When asked whether his biopic is in the works, the cricketer refused to divulge the details and said, “Is it, Ekta Kapoor? Then yes, she approached me and we talked about it once. Nothing went further than that. I have never thought of a biopic [on me] though there are a host of sports biopics being made. If there is time, then someone will make one on me. Hope people would be interested in seeing the film.” The 46-year-old has however watched a couple of films made on his former teammates. “I liked the MS Dhoni biopic, [M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story]. Tendulkar’s biopic [Sachin A Billion Dreams] was a little different. Now we have a film on the 1983 World Cup winning team. That will be huge and I will definitely watch it. As far as my biopic is concerned, we will wait and see,” he added.

The former captain was in the city to launch the trailer of 22 Yards, helmed by Mitali Ghoshal whose association with the cricketer goes back to her journalism days. She had earlier made The Warrior Prince, a docu-feature on Ganguly, narrated by Amitabh Bachchan. “I remember Mitali’s first interview with me and her first question was why I wasn’t able to score a century yet again in that particular match,” he laughed, adding a word of appreciation for the cast and crew. “I have seen all of them come over to Kolkata and shoot the film so passionately.

An obvious question to come up next was about Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul’s misogynistic comments on a popular TV show, Koffee With Karan. The duo has been suspended and recalled from Australia after their controversial comments and their actions have been severely criticised. “I haven’t watched the episode. I only watch Comedy Nights with Kapil,” Ganguly retorted but went on to defend them saying “people make mistakes” but everyone should move on and ensure it doesn’t happen again. “Jokes apart, I am sure whoever has done it will realise that and come out as a better person. We are all human beings. We are not machines that everything you put in comes out perfect. You have just got to live life and let others live. They are responsible people. They may be role models but they are under pressure all the time to perform.”

 
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Focus on short formats alone will lead to problems: Virat

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Adelaide: Virat Kohli is peerless in ODI cricket but he has a priceless message for youngsters — focus on limited-overs formats shouldn’t be an “excuse” for not being able to cope with the challenges of Test cricket. The world’s No. 1 batsman with 25 Test hundreds warned that youngsters will have mental problems if they don’t embrace the pristine form of five-day cricket. “If we focus too much on shorter formats — yes, they’re important — but if we solely focus and look at them as an escape or an excuse to not be in the kind of situations that Test cricket presents, then I think there will a mental problem with upcoming cricketers,” said Kohli.

The Indian skipper, who has played defining knocks against world class bowlers like Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Mitchell Starc and Kagiso Rabada during the past year, spoke about the hard work that goes into the making of a quality Test player.

“As long as you’re willing to wake up every morning for five days and do the hard yards and go do the dirty work — if you’re willing to bat for two hours and not score a run for the team — I think that is what people should prepare (youngsters for),” he said.

 

Kohli said the current batch of Indian Test cricketers was trying to set an example for the younger generation. “That (vision) will require the team to lay out certain things that needs to be done and for the next lot to keep following. So (when) the next lot comes in, they have to maintain that vision and then the people coming in will follow.”

Kohli has reaffirmed his commitment towards Test cricket, saying he wants India to become a superpower in the game’s longest format. “I wouldn’t say a goal but I would rather speak of a vision, which is for India to be a superpower in Test cricket or a very, very strong side in Test cricket in the years to come,” he said.

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