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Not KL Rahul or Dinesh Karthik, Harsha Bhogle suggests MS Dhoni’s name for India’s No. 4 conundrum

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With KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik and multiple other players failing to fulfil the requirements of No. 4 position in the Indian ODI team, renowned cricket expert Harsha Bhogle has suggested the name of MS Dhoni at second-down. The move might not only solve India’s batting order issues but might also help Dhoni rediscover his lost form.

Though the current Indian cricket team has performed well in past few years but heading into the 2019 ICC World Cup, there are a few issues that the team management needs to sort out. The biggest of all is the No. 4 conundrum as despite trying various options at the position – Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey and even Shreyas Iyer – the Men in Blue haven’t found a reliable batsman who can play second down.

Expert cricket commentator and analyst, Harsha Bhogle, suggests the experienced MS Dhoni to be slotted in at the crucial position and give the team the required balance they have been missing. As far as Bhogle is concerned, Dhoni at 4 doesn’t just solve India’s second-down problem but could also sort the former skipper’s form woes.

 

Bhogle, speaking to Cricbuzz, said that the fact that India can’t find a solution to the No 4 problem despite possessing such incredible talent is baffling.

“India came into this tournament, looking pretty settled, deciding who the number four should be. You’ve tried Yuvraj, Rahane, Manish Pandey and so many others and then India went back towards the end to back Dinesh Karthik and tried KL Rahul. Number 4 is open and I find that staggering in a country with so much talent,” Bhogle said.

Bhogle also discussed the current status of Suresh Raina in the team and if he could be the solution to the No. 4 dilemma, before discussing the batting woes Dhoni is experiencing at No. 6 position.

“Suresh Raina has been around since 2006. He has been a fantastic white-ball cricketer for India but is he still pulling his weight in the side. I love the attitude that Raina brings to a game, but I’m afraid, the answer to that has to be a no. MS Dhoni at six, it’s very difficult to say that about a legend, but he’s not doing it with the bat,” he added.

The second and third ODI against England saw Dhoni score 37 and 42 runs, respectively, but these runs came at strike rates of under 70, which drew extreme criticism from fans and former cricketers. Bhogle believes if Dhoni is made to bat at No. 4, not just India’s batting order problem will be sorted but the position can help Dhoni establish his old self too.

“With Dhoni, there’s a couple of things. Dhoni is also the spin bowler’s captain standing up. He allows Virat Kohli to go back in the deep and can Dhoni find a new role for himself. He can bat at number four, gets the time or does he just go in at six, seven and start to slog around. But India need to find a solution to MS Dhoni. He’s a legend, he’s too big a player. The decision has to be taken around now,” said Bhogle.

 


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Punjab fall short again

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Ludhiana: Services overcame hosts Punjab 1-0 in the final to win the 69th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.

Bikash Thapa’s 61st-minute strike proved the difference between the two sides as Services’ recent dominance in the tournament continued. Of Services’ six titles, five have come in the last eight years — in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019. Since losing to Punjab in the 2008 title match in Srinagar, Services have not lost in the final.

On the other hand, this was Punjab’s third defeat in the final since winning their last title in 2008. The eight-time champions had lost 2-1 to West Bengal in 2010. In their last final appearance, in 2015, they had lost to Services 5-4 on penalties at the same venue. This is the eighth time Punjab have finished as runners-up. This was the fourth time Punjab were playing hosts. In 1970 and 1974, they had emerged champions in Jalandhar.

 

Being the final, the match expectedly saw a slow start, with both teams playing a little cautiously. Punjab, however, were the faster off the blocks. They dominated possession and had greater depth in their attacks. The hosts created a few opportunites but couldn’t convert, with Sunny and Vikrant Singh shooting just over the bar.

However, as the match wore on, Services gained composure and got more control over the proceedings. They started building their attacks from the flanks and almost got the breakthrough just before the end of the first half.

After the changeover, Services came out with more intent and energy. They continued pushing up the flanks and the strategy paid off. Lallawmkima PC found himself on the edge of the Punjab box. He squared the ball to Thapa, who slotted it into the bottom corner. A shirtless celebration followed, for which Thapa received a yellow card.

Punjab could have restored parity in the dying minutes but Services goalkeeper Vishnu VK made some valiant saves to ensure his side won the coveted trophy after three years.

Services skipper N Suresh Meitei was adjudged the Player of the Match. The winners received a prize of Rs 5 lakh, while Punjab pocketed Rs 3.5 lakh.

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Pakistan cricketer seeks Tendulkar’s advice before WC

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Lahore: Picked in Pakistan’s World Cup squad, opener Abid Ali sought advice from Sachin Tendulkar ahead of the showpiece and said he wants to hug the Indian batting great.

The 31-year old has been in prolific form in Pakistan’s domestic cricket and broke into the national one-day squad for the World Cup after scoring a century on his debut against Australia in Dubai last month.

The immensely talented Abid bats in a manner similar to one of cricket’s all-time greats.

 

“It’s my wish and hope that I meet Sachin Tendulkar. Definitely, I would like to hug him and I am sure that just like all great players meet youngsters I am sure that he will not turn me down.

“I am sure that if I want to get any information on cricket from Sachin, he will give a positive reply,” Abid told a group of journalists.

Abid said meeting his idol would be a memorable moment.

“It will be the best day in my life when I meet him (Tendulkar) because he was one of the best batsmen.

“West Indian Viv Richards was also a great so I want to meet all the great players and learn from them,” said Abid.

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MU suffer fifth straight defeat with 0-4 loss to Everton

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London: A woeful Manchester United suffered their fifth straight away defeat, in all competitions, with a 4-0 Premier League hammering at the hands of a vibrant Everton at Goodison Park.

Brazilian Richarlison fired Everton ahead in the 13th minute with an acrobatic high volley after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked on a long throw.

Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with a low drive from over 25 yards out that United keeper David De Gea was slow to react to.

 

Lucas Digne then blasted in the third in the 56th minute after De Gea punched out a corner to the French full-back as United struggled to get even a foot in the game.

Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson then put substitute Theo Walcott through with a clever pass through the legs of Victor Lindelof which the former Arsenal striker confidently converted.

United, eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona on Tuesday, remain in sixth, outside the four qualification spots for next season`s campaign.

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