New Delhi: With pacers dominating the scenes in all the three Test matches between India and South Africa in the Rainbow Nation, the pattern wasn’t expected to unfold any differently in the limited-overs series. But spin duo Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal had other ideas. While Kuldeep finished with 17 wickets from 6 ODIs, Chahal picked as many wickets from 6 ODIs and 2 T20Is. A finger injury sustained during the 6th ODI ensured that Kuldeep was rested for the T20Is.
While Kuldeep is still around 10 days away from regaining full fitness, the chinaman bowler is already thinking about his next tournament — the IPL. But before the IPL, one must talk about unprecedented success that Kuldeep achieved in South Africa. The exuberance of youth is clearly evident in his voice as the reporter gets him to decode the secret of his achievement. Without making any bones, Kuldeep says he can’t thank his stars enough to have two stalwarts in skipper Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni as teammates.
Speaking to CricketNext, Kuldeep says while skipper Kohli plans it all — from field settings to the style of attack against each opposition batsman — former skipper Dhoni ensures that the bowlers implement all of it. Kuldeep doesn’t mind calling Dhoni the general of Kohli’s army.
“What we have achieved in South Africa has a lot to do with the way Kohli bhai and Dhoni bhai guide us in the middle. While you can all hear Dhoni bhai constantly guiding us on the stump microphone, it is Kohli bhai who actually plans it all. It is a complete work of two individuals who are brilliant when it comes to first planning and then implementing the plans.
“Credit has been given to us (Kuldeep and Chahal) for taking India home in the limited-overs series, but we couldn’t have been half as effective had it not been for the two senior pros guiding us. You need a skipper who backs you and believes in your ability to shine on the big stage. You think we could have been so successful if Kohli bhai had not given us the freedom to attack? I don’t think so,” he said.
Asked to talk about the thought going in his mind when he was handed the ball in the first ODI — the spin duo picked five wickets in the game — in Durban, Kuldeep is nonchalant as he says that looking at the wicket isn’t his way to go into a game.
“My role is to attack and also abide by the directions given by the skipper. I don’t really give the wicket much importance. I am an attacking bowler and I believe that if I can do my job, the wickets will come. Chahal telling me in Durban that the wicket had sharp turn gave me further confidence.
“In fact, I must admit that when I reached South Africa — during the third Test at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg — the mood in the camp was already upbeat. We had the upper-hand in the game and after coming so close in the first two games, it was for the first time that the result was also turning in our favour and that win set things up for the rest of the series.
“But yes, we did need to focus all over again and try and make inroads at the start of the ODIs. Keeping the winning momentum was very important for us as a team and that is what helped us because had we not won the first two ODIs, the Proteas would have come back strongly and the series could have ended in a much different manner,” he confessed.
While pundits were a bit surprised that Kuldeep didn’t find a place in the Test team, the chinaman bowler says that there was no place for a third spinner in the ranks after R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on foreign soil.
“Yes, I would be lying if I say that I didn’t feel disappointed to miss the bus, but then, that is a part of every sportsperson’s journey. You also need to realise that the team already had two master-class spinners in Ashwin bhai and Jaddu (Jadeja) bhai. So, I went to South Africa with a clear mind and looking to make the most of the opportunities that I would get. To be fair, I didn’t think that we (Chahal and him) would get the kind of purchase that we did. I enjoyed bowling on those wickets and I think the numbers speak for themselves. I only looked at expressing myself in the middle,” he revealed.
Done with the tour of South Africa, the next challenge is England and Kuldeep feels the team will do well even there under the leadership of Kohli. “Kohli bhai leads by example. His aggression rubs off on all of us and that is why this team has the ‘never-say-die’ attitude. I am confident that we as a team will produce another good performance there. But before that, I am looking forward to bowling against Kohli bhai and Mahi bhai in the IPL,” he signed off with a smile.
Ganguly backs Dhawan to shine at ICC World Cup
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 India
s hopes at this years Cricket World Cup, former captain Sourav Ganguly has said.
Dhawan smashed 97 not out off 63 balls in Delhi Capitals
seven-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.
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.
Olympique Lyon’s Champions League spot under threat after Nantes defeat
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 Limbombe
s 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.
Defender Gomez sign two-year contract extension in East Bengal
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.