Pleased with the performance of the South African players in their practice game against Sri Lanka Board President’s XI, coach Ottis Gibson urged the batsmen to play a positive brand of cricket to counter the spin challenge that Sri Lanka are likely to throw at them during the three-match Test series which starts on July 12 in Galle.
“If we are going to win in these conditions, we have to be positive and we have to try in most situations to take the positive option. The way Sri Lanka play their cricket, when a batsman comes in they will have fielders close to the bat, which means there are scoring opportunities to be had. You have to be positive and confident enough in your game plan to take on those open spaces in the outfield.
“If you are going to scratch around and get out, you might as well be positive and try and make some runs while you’re at the crease. That has always been my philosophy, and these conditions here don’t change my feeling on that,” Gibson said on Sunday (July 8).
The two-day warm-up encounter at the P Sara Oval in Colombo ended in a draw with South Africa scoring 338 in reply to the opposition’s total of 287. Tabraiz Shamsi (5 for 45) did well with the ball before Faf du Plessis (79) Hashim Amla (78) and Temba Bavuma (58) shined with the bat. However, South Africa suffered a lower-order collapse – they were 260 for 3 at one stage before losing wickets in a heap to be bowled out under 340.
Gibson said the focus during the practice game was on getting used to the conditions although he admitted that being bowled out quickly after a strong start was ‘not ideal’, but was also ‘not the end of the world’. Meanwhile, he was happy with Shamsi’s performance, hinting that the wrist spinner has put himself in the reckoning for making the Test eleven.
“For the most part, I thought we got what we wanted. Yesterday I thought we bowled very well, at this stage it is about getting used to the Sri Lankan conditions. We knew the wicket was going to be slow, it was about getting miles in the bowlers’ legs, especially the seamers. I thought Shamsi was excellent yesterday, he has really hit the ground running and put himself in the frame for a Test place,” Gibson said.
“Today we batted well, we made a conscious decision to try and give everyone a hit. Hashim retired when he got to 78 to give the others an opportunity to have a hit. At the end, I was a bit disappointed that the lower-order didn’t use their time a lot better. To get bowled out this afternoon was not ideal but it is not the end of the world. We move on to Galle, we have had a good week of preparation,” he added.
The match also provided an opportunity for Dale Steyn to hit the ground running. The experienced pacer, who’s attempting his Test comeback after being sidelined due to a heel injury in the Newlands Test against India in January, bowled 12 wicketless overs for 52 runs in the tour game. Gibson didn’t want to read too much into this performance although he admitted that the 35-year-old did look a bit rusty.
“I’m happy with where Dale is at, because he was playing in England. He came in yesterday and he looked a little bit rusty, I’m not going to lie. We’re talking about one of the best fast bowlers of the modern generation. He knows what he needs to do to get himself up for a Test match. We’ve had a little chat already today about what he needs to do for the remainder of the days building up to the Test match. He’ll be good to go by the time the Galle Test comes around,” Gibson insisted.
He also said South Africa are open to playing two spinners in the first Test but was quick to mention that the decision would only be taken after taking the pitch into consideration.
“We have covered our bases with the team that we have picked. We have four quality fast bowlers and three quality spinners, we have to get to Galle and have a look at what the surface is going to be like. We are confident that whichever combination we put out will be a strong one, one that can go and win us a Test.
“We will try and pick the best bowler for the conditions that we have. If the conditions are going to favour spin, we will obviously try and get another spinner into the attack. If it looks like it’s going to be a good pitch and we feel that having extra pace will make a difference to the Sri Lankans, we will also consider that option. At the moment, we are not sold on one way or the other, looking at the surface will go a long way towards us making a final decision,” he concluded.
Would be sitting at home if I think like people from outside: Kohli
Mumbai: Virat Kohli said he would be “sitting at home if he thinks like people from outside”, responding, in his trademark combative style, to Gautam Gambhir’s recent jibe at him, but without taking the former opener’s name.
Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014, recently said that in a result-oriented franchise environment, Kohli has been “lucky” to have survived despite Royal Challengers Bangalore never winning the coveted title in his eight years as skipper.
Asked about it, the batting maestro said, “Obviously, you want to win the IPL. I am doing what I am supposed to do. I don’t care whether I am going to be judged on this (not winning IPL) or not. There is no real, sort of, parameters you set. I try to perform wherever I can. I try to win all the possible titles, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
“We have to be practical about why we haven’t won one. That boils down to bad decision making in pressure situations. If I think like people from outside, I can’t even sustain five games. I would be sitting at home,” Kohli said.
According to Gambhir, one can’t say Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the same breath, as India’s current captain has not won the IPL even once in comparison to his predecessor’s three. Gambhir also compared Kohli with his national team deputy Rohit Sharma, who too have three IPL titles to his credit.
“I know people talk about it a lot and they like to grab opportunities to talk about these things. But I have a responsibility here and given a chance, as a captain, I would love to win the IPL for my team.
“We all are motivated to do so. It has not happened and that’s the reality. No excuses for that. Only acceptance of the faults that we made in the past. The fact that we played six semi-finals means that we have been a side who are always in contention. If we make better decisions, we can go further than that. That’s how I see things,” Kohli added.
The Indian captain was speaking on the eve of the IPL 12 opener between his team and Chennai Super Kings.
To a question if he felt RCB were the underdogs against CSK at home, he said every team that comes here has to be considered so, with the home team being led by Dhoni.
“MS knows exactly what he wants from his team in these conditions. We all have seen that and are aware of it. We are going to be backing our skills and then find ways to come out on top.
“It’s very easy to be overawed by the support that CSK are going to get. In the IPL, people can get carried away by the support that a team like CSK gets at home but we have to focus on our basics.”Kohli also said RCB’s focus this year would be on being consistent and scratching their way to wins.
“It again boils down to how much composure you have in crunch situations. If you see all the teams that have won, they have had players who have stood up and done the job.
“In the past, when we have been close to winning the title, we have just expected things to go our way instead of standing up. That is something we want to correct this season. If we look ugly, we look ugly. It doesn’t matter. We don’t want to be a side just playing flamboyant cricket. We want to be a consistent side,” Kohli said.
AIFF deny I-League clubs’ request to reschedule qualifiers
Mumbai: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has denied the I-League clubs’ request to restart the 2019 Super Cup, Goal can confirm.
Nine I-League clubs had earlier informed the Indian FA that they are willing to take part in the Super Cup 2019 after AIFF president Praful Patel reached out to the clubs on Thursday and assured them that he will hold a meeting with them in mid-April.
After initially deciding to withdraw from the competition citing AIFF’s unfair treatment towards the clubs, the I-League clubs’ unison expressed their willingness to take part in the knock-out competition if all the clubs are allowed to take part.
However, as Goal reported earlier, matches given as walkovers cannot be replayed according to the regulations of the national cup competition. The AIFF has made it clear to the clubs that the regulations must be adhered to and that it would be unfair towards the opposing teams – Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC – that took the field for the matches which did not take place.
Minerva Punjab, Gokulam Kerala FC and Aizawl FC failed to turn up for their Super Cup qualifiers on March 15 and March 16.
Due to the I-League clubs’ absence on the match days, the AIFF awarded Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC wins by virtue of walkovers.
Neymar charged for ‘insulting’ referee in Man United defeat
London: Paris St Germain forward Neymar has been charged for “insulting and/or molesting” the referee following his post-game rant after the French side were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Manchester United, UEFA said.
Neymar, who was sidelined by injury, was investigated for lashing out and labelling the video assistant referee (VAR) system a “disgrace” after United won a controversial penalty in the dying stages to advance on away goals.
“Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United FC (1-3), played on 6 March in France,” UEFA said in a statement.
“Player Neymar Junior – insulting / molesting acts against match official (statements made by the player following the above-mentioned match) – Art. 15 (1) (d) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.”
If the Brazilian is found guilty, he could be suspended for three matches in the competition for insulting match officials.
UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body will look into the case and a date for the hearing is yet to be confirmed.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel had said after the game that he understood Neymar’s anger and defended his comments, saying they were made in the heat of the moment.