Johannesburg: South African swashbuckler AB de Villiers found a positive for India in what has been a thoroughly disappointing Test campaign here so far – their “lively pace attack,” which, he says, has surprised the hosts.
The Proteas took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series with comprehensive wins in Cape Town and Centurion.
“India have really impressed me. They have surprised us in terms of pace bowling. They have showed a lot more skill and definitely there is a lot more pace than we expected,” de Villiers said on Thursday at an event to launch the Pink ODI against India on February 10.
The batting genius, whose knocks proved crucial in both the Tests, said he is enjoying his return to the five-day cricket and lauded the Proteas for their all-round show.
“Test cricket is the ultimate challenge. It was very enjoyable to be part of a really important and good series win. I think it was a great team effort from everyone, from the fielders, to the bowlers and to big pressure moments with the bat in hand.
“It was just an all-round good team performance. I am obviously enjoying my cricket and loving it out there with the boys. It has been a great couple of Test matches,” he said.
Talking about his physical fitness after returning to the longer format for the first time since December 2015, the former South African said, “It feels like my debut back in 2004 when I started as an opening batsman, then a keeper at no.7 and back to opening and up and down.”
“My body is feeling right at the moment. I do have niggles but that is part of Test cricket. You never get up feeling a hundred percent. The back is still there, the ankles and knees, everything is hurting at times but to be playing the ultimate form of the game again, it has been a great challenge.”
De Villiers has the most runs in the series so far, scoring 200 in four innings inclusive of two match-defining half-centuries at Cape Town and Centurion. Only Virat Kohli has matched up to him with 153 in the first innings of the second Test.
“Virat’s knock in the first innings was very, very good. I did congratulate him afterwards. But there were quite a few guys who contributed as well. Faf du Plessis got a half- century and Dean Elgar played a very good hand too,” he said.
“We are now looking forward to the Wanderer’s test with more bounce and pace compared to the Centurion wicket. Overall, it was a really good Test. We adapted well to the conditions and did what we needed to do,” added de Villiers.
De Villiers, however, the South African top-order should score more in the coming match, starting January 24 in Johannesburg.
“We have tried to do that over the last few Test matches, but the wicket didn’t allow it and some good bowling as well. It is credit to the Indian bowlers,” he added.
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.