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Pandya can be close to Ben Stokes In 2 Years:Klusener

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Mumbai :A game-changer in his hey-days, South African all-rounder Lance Klusener foresees India’s Hardik Pandya closing in on someone like Ben Stokes if the team management can be “patient” with him for the next two years at least. “Among current all-rounders in world cricket, Ben Stokes is right up there.
There are a few who have come and gone in recent times as well but certainly, a guy like Pandya, give him a year or two at this level, there is no reason why he can’t be one of the best all-rounders out there,” Klusener told in an interview here Wednesday. Klusener, who is in the city as senior Delhi team’s consultant coach for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, spoke at length about Pandya’s all-round abilities which have come under the scanner after his largely disappointing show in England.
“I think we must be careful while making comparisons. Everybody wants to compare Hardik to the great Kapil Dev. Hardik is his own cricketer. Of course, he has got some learning to do. I guess Hardik’s success will be based on how much he is able to learn,” Klusener said. The 1999 World Cup player of the tournament said Pandya has a fine support system to hone him.
“I think he is in great hands in that Indian set-up. I think people just need to be a bit more patient with him. I hope he is allowed to grow and develop,” said Klusener. For someone, who boasts of a highest score of 174 and bowling figures of 8/64 in Test cricket, Klusener feels that it’s a seam bowling all-rounder, who makes the difference in a good team.
“For me, the glue for any team is the seam bowling all-rounder because it gives you a lot more options. I think India have got the right man. It’s just that how he grows and develops himself. It’s easy to criticise but international cricket is tough out there. “I think Hardik should be given space and allowed to grow. He is going to be that glue for India for a long time,” the 47-year-old said.
Klusener, who represented the Proteas in 49 Tests and 171 ODIs, is confident that in another two years, Pandya will be ready in the next two years if he can work on his weaknesses. Pandya scored 164 runs in eight innings in England and critics felt that at times he trusted his defensive technique too much. Klusener thinks that someone with natural ability to hit the ball should always try and play his natural game unless he batting with someone of Virat Kohli’s calibre at the other end.
“His defensive technique needs a little bit of work but he is a natural striker of the ball. That needs to be encouraged. We have seen faster scoring by Stokes at the bottom of the line-up. That makes a big difference. “Maybe Hardik needs to have the technique to defend when someone like Virat Kohli is batting at the other end. I am sure the Indian support staff have identified that weakness. The longer he plays, the longer he will be in that set-up and realise what a great talent he is,” Klusener said.
“And you can only take advantage of that great talent, if you give yourself opportunity to get in (get set). That’s one area he needs to pay a little bit of attention.” On his assignment as Delhi’s white ball cricket consultant, Klusener was all praise for Indian youngsters, who are ever-ready to soak in information.
“For me, coaching in India is probably the ultimate. One of the things I like in India is about response of the players to learning. That’s probably why its best cricketing nation out there. “People are keen to learn and listen. When I was offered this job by the DDCA, I jumped at the opportunity. I will be here till October 20 and comeback during Mushtaq Ali Trophy,” he informed.


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Most football associations support 48-team WC in Qatar:FIFA

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London: FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said, “Most soccer associations in the world back increasing the size of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams from 32, with some matches to be played in neighbouring countries.”

Infantino told in a news conference that the Qataris were open to the larger format.

“FIFA would make a decision no later than June, once a feasibility study is over,” he added.

 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017 that has complicated the prospect of sharing the tournament.

The countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which it denies.

Speaking on it, Infantino said, “We are doing football not politics.”

FIFA voted in 2017 to increase the size of the tournament to 48 teams starting from 2026 but, since then, Infantino has been considering the possibility of bringing the change forward to 2022.

“Most football associations across the globe hope for opening up the World Cup to more teams,” he said, lamenting that continental champions such as Cameroon, Chile and the United States were absent from last year’s World Cup after failing to qualify.

“If it is possible to organise a 48-team World Cup in Qatar with some games in neighbouring countries, that will be great,” he further said.

Infantino also quoted that it was “premature” to speak of a planned joint bid from Spain, Portugal and Morocco for the 2030 World Cup, which would be the first time countries from different continents had applied to stage the tournament.

“I welcome all bids. The more the better,” he said.

Infantino was speaking following a FIFA executive summit in Marrakech which brought together some 60 football associations.

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Ready to bat anywhere:Dhoni

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Mumbai: Wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni, expressed his willingness to bat at any position in the Indian batting order, following a match-winning knock in the series-decider against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

The veteran, who was named as the man of the series following consistent performances in the ODI clashes, stepped up with a quality knock yet again following an early dismissal for the openers and skipper Virat Kohli.

The 37-year-old cricketer scored 87 runs in 114 deliveries, stitching an unbeaten 121 run stand off 115 balls with Kedar Jadhav, as India chased down a target of 231 with four balls to spare.

 

“I am happy to bat at any number. The important thing is where the team needs me,” said Dhoni.

“Whether I play at 4 or 6, we need to see if the team balance can be retained. I’m happy to bat lower down at 6. I can’t say I can’t bat at No. 6 after playing 14 years,” he added.

The cricketer was full of praise for Kedar Jadhav, who he credited for providing valuable support at the other end, on a slow wicket.

“It was a slow wicket, so it was difficult to hit whenever you wanted to. No point going after the bowlers who were bowling well, so we wanted to take it deep and that was the plan,” said Dhoni.

“Of course supported brilliantly by Kedar, who plays unorthodox shots. He did a great job in executing,” concluded the cricketer.

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Pakistan seek first win on SA tour as ODI battle begins

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PORT ELIZABETH: Pakistan will be looking to chalk up the first win of their South African tour when they face the Proteas in the first of five One-day Internationals in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s team, swept 3-0 in the preceding Test series, enjoy playing at St George’s Park, winning two of their three ODIs at the venue, with the other washed out.

Pakistan beat South Africa by 182 runs in 2002 when Abdul Razzaq and Saleem Elahi hit hundreds, and then by one run in 2013 in a game reduced to 45-overs-a-side due to rain.

 

South Africa hold an edge over Pakistan in ODIs as far as their head-to-head record is concerned.

So far, the Proteas have faced Pakistan in 73 ODIs, winning 47, losing 25 while one match ended in no result. Pakistan do not hold an impressive record (matches 29, wins 10, losses 18, one no result) in their matches staged against South Africa at the latter’s home venues).

Interestingly however, Pakistan on their last tour to the African country in 2013 when Misbah-ul-Haq the led tourists, clinched the three-match ODI series 2-1, the country’s maiden ODI series triumph on South African soil.

The tourists currently playing in South Africa have been dealt a boost with the news that Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock have been rested for the first two ODIs in the series — Saturday’s fixture and Tuesday’s match in Durban.

However, they will have to contend with fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who bagged 24 wickets at 14.70 during South Africa’s win in the Test series and now looks nailed to make his ODI debut.

Rassie van der Dussen should also make his ODI bow having finished as top-run scorer in the recently-concluded Mzansi Super League, South Africa’s new T20 competition.

The 28-year-old hit 469 runs in 11 innings, including four fifties, for champions Jozi Stars and should join Heinrich Klaasen — De Kock’s deputy as wicketkeeper-batsman — in South Africa’s middle order.

Left-handed Shan Masood could open the batting for Pakistan having impressed in the Tests while pacer Mohammad Amir is back in the visitors’ ODI squad for the first time since the Asia Cup staged in the UAE last September.

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