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Kohli maintains top spot in ICC Test rankings

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Dubai: India captain Virat Kohli has maintained his top spot, Cheteshwar Pujara returned to top five while Jasprit Bumrah achieved a career-high ranking of 33 in the latest ICC Test rankings for batsmen and bowlers.

Pujara’s knocks of 123 and 71 were the cornerstone of India’s victory in the opening Test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval. Pujara has now moved ahead of Joe Root and David Warner in fourth position. He trails third-ranked Smith by 55 points, and leads Root by 39 points.

India fast bowler Bumrah has achieved a career-high ranking of 33rd, after his three for 47 and three for 68 at Adelaide helped him to rise five places.

 

Kane Williamson has become the first New Zealand batsman and 32nd overall to break the 900-point barrier in the ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen following a stellar performance in the third Test against Pakistan, which helped his side to win their first away series in 49 years.

Williamson scored 89 and 139 in Abu Dhabi last week, which set up New Zealand’s convincing 123-run victory over Pakistan.

This performance not only helped Williamson to win the Player of the Match award, but also earn 37 points in the latest player rankings, which, in turn, has allowed him to leapfrog Australia’s Steve Smith into second position on a career-high 913 points.

As a result, Kohli has conceded 15 points to slip to 920 points, just seven points ahead of Williamson.

With Williamson breathing down Kohli’s neck, the India captain will be under pressure to perform strongly with the bat in the second Test starting in Perth from Friday otherwise he will potentially lose his number-one ranking he has been holding since the Edgbaston Test against England in August.

While Williamson shone with the bat in Abu Dhabi and was richly rewarded, number-one ranked Kohli managed only three and 34 in his side’s impressive 31-run victory over Australia at the Adelaide Oval.

The other two notable movers from the Adelaide Test are Ajinkya Rahane in 17th (up by two places) and Mitchell Starc in 16th (up by two places).

Amongst the newcomers, Australia’s Marcus Harris has entered in 116th batting position, while amongst the bowlers, off-spinner William Somerville of New Zealand has emerged in 63rd spot and Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has popped up in 111th place.


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India’s I-League clubs propose unified 20-team top tier to include ISL franchises

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Mumbai : India’s I-League clubs have proposed a road map for a unified 20-team league next season featuring both I-League clubs and Indian Super League franchises.
The move comes as six I-League clubs say they will only play in the impending Super Cup if the All India Football Federation (AIFF) addresses their concerns over the league restructuring.
The I-League clubs have been worried that the league will be relegated to the second tier of the domestic game next season and be replaced by the more marketing-driven and Reliance-backed Indian Super League, founded in 2013 and modelled after cricket’s IPL.
Newly crowned I-League champions Chennai City FC, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Minerva Punjab, Aizawl FC, Gokulam Kerala, Real Kashmir FC, Churchill Brothers and NEROCA FC are behind the proposal of a merger of the concurrent leagues into a 20-team league.
They have approached the AIFF and president Praful Patel via a letter demanding assurances from Patel about next season’s league structure before committing to participate in the Super Cup.
“There will be 20 teams in the first division and a strong 16-team second division,” said Mohun Bagan director Debasish Dutta. “Every team will benefit and we have given a financial model so that it’s a sustainable project. Not like ISL (project) because they are suffering huge losses. We don’t want to lose ISL clubs, because they are supporting Indian football by investing money. They should stay!”
“We have handed the proposal with a covering letter. We are ready to play the Super Cup after the meeting and if at all it happens, the Super Cup should start from the qualifying round,” he continued.
Chennai City owner Rohit Ramesh said: “This is a good way to play as far as the sport is concerned. We aren’t omitting anybody, we want to play against everyone. But, it should be in a manner where the money we put in has to be got back in some time.”
The proposed league would run for nine months from September to May and include promotion and relegation from the lower division. The letter also outlined that the marketing would have to be done centrally and projected a growth in total sponsorship revenue up to 40,6 million euros (325 crores).
“The proposed 20 team revamped League, would have 380 matches,” read the letter. “We can take a conservative/practical approach and generate a total net sponsorship revenue to the tune of INR 325 crores (€40.6 million).”

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AIFF president Patel to meet I-League clubs in April

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Mumbai : The All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel has informed the I-League clubs that he will hold a meeting with them between April 10 and April 15 Goal can confirm. A suitable venue of the meeting will be confirmed later.
Patel has also urged the clubs to come out of their decision to boycott the Super Cup 2019 and take part in the competition. He has assured the clubs that a decision can be taken after mutually discussing the issue.
Nine I-League clubs had earlier unanimously decided to pull out of the Super Cup citing unfair treatment meted out towards them by the Indian FA.
Minerva Punjab FC, Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala FC had walked out of the qualifiers of the Super Cup which were scheduled on March 14 and March 15 in Bhubaneswar.
The clubs recently conducted a meeting where they prepared a roadmap for Indian football and informed the AIFF they are ready to take part in the Super Cup only after a meeting with the President of the AIFF.
The league structure suggested by the I-League clubs was that of a ‘unified top division league’ including all the Indian Super League (ISL) clubs and I-League clubs.
It will be interesting to see if Patel’s letter to the clubs will now bridge the gap between the federation and the nine clubs.
Praful Patel is currently in Kyrgyzstan as a part of his delegation for the FIFA council meeting.

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Opportunity for young guns to grab WC spots: Arthur

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SHARJAH: Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur is confident new players will grab the opportunity to fill a few available places for the ICC World Cup 2019 through the five-match ODI series against Australia.
Pakistan have rested six players — captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shadab Khan — to provide an opportunity to the other leading performers to stake a claim for the tournament to be held in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.
Arthur believed it was a well-thought out and a sensible decision. “We designed this series for our players for the simple fact that we want to test our best bench players.
“There was planning, sometimes people think that its ad hoc. We want to test our bench-strength so that we could have a look at our final squad and combination. We know our major players for the World Cup.”
Openers Shan Masood and uncapped Abid Ali have been prolific scorers in domestic and ‘A’ series, while batsman Saad Ali scored more than 900 runs in the 2017-18 first-class season.
Paceman Mohammad Abbas is an established Test spearhead who has the knock of doing well in limited overs as well, while rookie 18-year-old Mohammad Hasnain has impressed with his pace in the recently-concluded HBL Pakistan Super League.
Umar Akmal has also been recalled after impressing with his match fitness in the PSL.
“After this series, we go to England and there we go with a very, very settled squad and the roles will be defined. We want to know where the squad stands. We felt that we have done everything possible to be the best possible prepared team for the World Cup,” Arthur remarked.
Pakistan also play five One-day Internationals against England before the 10-team mega event.
Arthur believes trying new players will help in long term. “For us, it isn’t so much about Australia, this is about us and those positions for the World Cup and the opportunity created for a lot of players because for us, we need to find who our players are for every position.
“If we could do that out of this series, then it would be good for us.
“To be honest, it’s a new squad. This is a series of opportunities. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work-out that a few positions are available for the World Cup. There are probably four available. [chief selector] Inzamam-ul-Haq and I have discussed that. So, these young players need to raise their hands up and try make those places their own. It’s an exciting time going into the World Cup.”
Arthur backed the decision to rest skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and five others.

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