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If bounce doesn’t get you, swing and seam must: Sachin

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Chandigarh:Murali Vijay, the Indian opener, said the other day that the bounce on the South African wickets is not a big problem — the big problem is the swing. “Bounce can be managed but swing is difficult,” Vijay said. He did not refer to another deadly factor — movement off the pitch. When the ball’s seam (the raised, thready part where the leather is sewed together) hits the pitch, it’s very difficult to judge which way the ball would go — whether it would come in towards the stumps or move away from the wicket. The poor batsman is liable to get bowled or trapped lbw if the ball moves in, and caught-behind if it moves away. This problem is magnified on grassy, damp pitches on which the ball skids after hitting the surface. That’s why batsmen from the Indian Subcontinent struggle in England, South Africa or New Zealand.

In India’s first innings, four batsmen were caught behind by the wicketkeeper, five were caught at the slips or gully, and two were lbw. This is the usual story of Indian batsmen’s struggles in South Africa.

Thirteen 100s have been made by Indian batsmen in South Africa in the 18 Tests played by India prior to the current Test in Cape Town. Sachin Tendulkar alone made five of these 100s. No other Indian batsman has made more than one Test 100 there — Rahul Dravid, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Kapil Dev, Wasim Jaffer, Mohammad Azharuddin, Virender Sehwag and Pravin Amre have a 100 apiece in South Africa. Dravid has only three 80-plus scores in South Africa, including a 148; his average there is a lowly 29.71 in 11 Tests, against his career average of 52.31. VVS Laxman’s highest in South Africa is 96, and he’s got only four 50s in 18 innings there. Sourav Ganguly has made four 50s in his 16 innings there, with a top score of 73. Sehwag got a 105 in his first innings in South Africa, on Test debut, but could make only one 50-plus score in his 14 subsequent innings there.

 

Going further back, Sanjay Manjrekar averaged 23.20 in South Africa, without a 100 or 50; Ravi Shastri averaged 11.80 in three Tests; Azharuddin averaged 23.33 in seven Tests there. All these numbers are a testament to the challenges batsmen face in South Africa — historically, India’s batsmen have been troubled by the in-air and off-pitch movement of the ball there, apart from the bounce. Virat Kohli’s men are going to have to play better than ever before in their lives if they’re to return from South Africa with their reputations enhanced.


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Ganguly backs Dhawan to shine at ICC World Cup

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Mumbai:There is not a bowler in the world that can stop Shikhar Dhawan when the opener is in determined mood and the left-hander will be crucial to Indias hopes at this years Cricket World Cup, former captain Sourav Ganguly has said.

Dhawan smashed 97 not out off 63 balls in Delhi Capitalsseven-wicket victory against Kolkata Knight Riders in Fridays Indian Premier League (IPL) contest at Eden Gardens, much to the delight of Ganguly, an advisor to the Capitals.

Captain Virat Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma are India`s batting mainstays in one-day cricket but Ganguly puts Dhawan, who has 16 centuries from 128 ODIs with a 93-plus strike rate, in the same league.

 

“The three best players in one-day cricket — Dhawan, Rohit, Virat,” Ganguly told the IPL website. “When he (Dhawan) gets set and gets in he`s unstoppable.

“All I expect from him is determination. When he is determined, no bowler in the world can stop him.”

Dhawan`s second fifty of this IPL season, which catapulted Delhi into the top four, augurs well for India ahead of the May 30 to July 14 World Cup in England and Wales.

Along with opening partner Rohit, the onus will be on Dhawan to give India strong starts in the tournament and the southpaw has performed well on English soil.

Named man of the series in their triumphant 2013 Champions Trophy campaign, Dhawan was also the tournament`s leading scorer four years later when India lost in the final to Pakistan.

“If he gets set, he takes the game away. This is how he plays for India,” Ganguly, who led India to the final of the 2003 World Cup, later told reporters. “He`s a class act.”

Two-time champions India begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa in Southampton on June 5.

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Olympique Lyon’s Champions League spot under threat after Nantes defeat

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London: Olympique Lyonnais` Champions League qualifying hopes were hit as they were beaten 2-1 at Nantes in Ligue 1.

Third-placed Lyon, who hold the final Champions League qualifying spot, were undone by Anthony Limbombes late free-kick after Martin Terrier had cancelled out Kalifa Coulibalys opener for Nantes.

Lyon are on 56 points with six games left, six ahead of fourth-placed St Etienne, who play their game in hand at home against Girondins de Bordeaux on Sunday.

 

It was Lyon`s third straight defeat in all competitions after they were knocked out of the French Cup semi-finals by Stade Rennes and lost at home to lowly Dijon in the league last weekend.

The result leaves an even bigger question mark over coach Bruno Genesio`s future, with the club set to make a decision on whether to extend his contract at the end of the season.

With Nabil Fekir, Memphis Depay and Marcelo on the bench, Lyon got off to a bad start.

Coulibaly opened the scoring in the 11th minute after collecting a though ball from Majeed Waris.

Lyon were shaken by the hosts but weathered the storm and equalised one minute before the interval when Terrier curled a fine shot into the back of the net to finish off a counter-attack.

Limbombe earned Nantes victory seven minutes from fulltime with an inch-perfect free-kick, lifting the Canaries up to 15th in the table on 34 points.

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Defender Gomez sign two-year contract extension in East Bengal

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Mumbai: East Bengal fans will heave a huge sigh of relief after their star defender Borja Gomes decided to sign a contract extension with the club and not follow Jobby Justin to go out. The Kolkata-based club is in the process of becoming a part of the ISL next season with I-League’s future looking bleak.

East Bengal came agonizingly close to lift the I-League title yet again this season before Chennai City FC eventually won it as the Kolkata club finished second.And with I-League looking to either get dissolved or set to get demoted to the second division, it was important for East Bengal to finish high on the table.

However, that wasn’t enough for the club to retain their star striker Jobby Justin, who signed a pre-contract with two-time ISL champions ATK just after the I-League ended and the Super Cup was in its quarter-final stage. But, the club was quick to react after that setback and on Friday handed a two-year contract extension to Spanish defender Borja Gomez.

 

“East Bengal FC are pleased to announce the renewal of contract with Borja Gomez Perez for the next two seasons,” the club said in a statement.

“According to him, this is the best team and ‘fans are the best in India’,” the statement added.

The Madrid-born La-Liga star, who is nick-named as the ‘Senapati’, was one of the key members for the club last season and has been a motivator for the team both on and off the field. Gomez has previously played for Granada CF, Real Oviedo, Hercules CF, Real Murcia and more before East Bengal had signed him from UD Sanse in January last year.

East Bengal has already announced their bid for ISL in a board meeting and are currently waiting for the terms to get financially acceptable.

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