Paris :PAUL Pogba was the last to arrive. There was little doubt that he was the man everyone was waiting for. The rest of his mates of this World Cup-winning and potentially era-defining team had already passed through the mixed zone, boarding the bus to the team hotel to pick their stuff and take the flight to Paris where their fans will flood the Champs Elysees for the victory parade.
Pogba entered the hall — designed specifically with a walkway for the players to go through with only a three-foot high, one-inch thick plastic wall propped up on a metallic base to keep the hordes of journalists at a safe distance from them — alongside captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. He announced his arrival loudly and then proceeded to shake hands with the press pack looking forward to sharing that moment with him and getting his reaction.
Lloris immediately ran to a Colombian journalist, giving him a deep hug while celebrating with him. Pogba did the same; they jumped for joy and the strength of the plastic wall that separated them was tested. That wall had fallen moments earlier, prompting several reporters to hit the floor when Adil Rami, the man who calls himself the joker of this French squad, was speaking. Only after that, the volunteers on the side of the players began to push back the wall whenever they felt that the press pack was leaning too much onto it.
Anyways, you’d wonder why Lloris and Pogba were celebrating so passionately with a Colombian journalist when a huge number of reporters from France were already there. Well, the man in question is a close friend of Davinson Sanchez, Lloris’ team-mate at Tottenham Hotspur, and Juan Cuadrado, Pogba’s pal at former side Juventus. Pogba’s appearance in the mixed zone had taken the spotlight off Antoine Griezmann, who was speaking to a large group of reporters from Spain.
About a couple of hours ago, France had blown away Croatia 4-2 to lift the World Cup. It was a complete performance; one that showed France’s brilliance and their supreme control. Not at any stage had France looked nervous.
“We had 90 minutes to make a story and we made it today,” Pogba said as he stopped to take questions from Dawn. “I’m extremely happy to be a world champion. This really is a dream come true.”
An own goal by Mario Mandzukic off a Griezmann free-kick gave France the lead after Croatia had dominated the early stages. Ivan Perisic’s stunning strike levelled matters but the French got a VAR decision in their favour when Perisic couldn’t react quickly enough to get his hand out of the way and gave away a penalty that Griezmann tucked away to give France a 2-1 lead by the 38th minute. Pogba’s goal saw France surge clear just before the hour mark before Kylian Mbappe added a fourth to seal the result with Lloris’ error, that contributed to Mandzukic pulling one back, proving inconsequential.
“We were playing against a great team which had a tactic against us and a plan against us,” said Pogba when asked about France’s largely nerveless performance. “I think the first goal hit them a bit and so did the penalty. But then we scored the third and the fourth quickly and that made all the difference.”
The victory was a sort of redemption for Pogba. He came to this World Cup after a season at Manchester United where he was criticised for his performances. Before the final on Sunday, he had no goals or assists at the World Cup. His goal was huge and he left Russia as a world champion.
“That’s what I play for, that’s why I star,” Pogba said when asked if this win was a riposte to the critics. “That’s why we train every day, that’s why we push ourselves, that’s why we are doing all that the sacrifices in life. Everyone, however, wants to see the shiny things in life, like my house or my fast cars. But we work a lot for it and deserve it. We try to do the right things and try to help people in need. At the end of the day, we’re also human beings and that criticism is nothing.”
Kohli scripts history, makes clean sweep of ICC awards
Dubai :Indian skipper Virat Kohli has become the first player in history to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the Intenational Cricket Council (ICC) Cricketer of the Year, the Men’s Test Player of the Year and the ODI Player of the Year awards following an extraordinary 2018.
Not only is Kohli the first player to win these three major ICC awards together, but he has also been named the captain of the ICC Test and ODI teams of the year for a fabulous run in the international cricket.
Kohli scored a total of 1,322 runs at an average of 55.08 in 13 Tests with five hundreds during the calendar year, while in 14 ODIs he amassed 1,202 runs at an astonishing average of 133.55 with six centuries. He also scored 211 runs in 10 T20Is.
The 30-year-old from Delhi, who first came into limelight when he led India to victory at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia in 2008, finished the year as the top-ranked batsman in Tests and ODIs.
The highest scorer in both forms of the game in 2018, he was one of only two batsmen to score more than 1,000 runs in Tests and only among three to do so in ODI cricket.
Kohli was the unanimous choice of the ICC Voting Academy for the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy with South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada coming in second to him for both this award and the ICC Test Player of the Year award. Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was runner up to Kohli for the ICC ODI Player of the Year award.
Ecstatic to receive the honour, “It feels amazing. It’s a reward for all the hard work that you do throughout the calendar year. I feel really grateful and very, very happy with the team doing well at the same time myself performing. Having recognition at the global level from the ICC is something you feel proud of as a cricketer because you understand that there are many players playing the game.”
“To be rewarded in this manner from amongst all of them is obviously a very proud moment for me and something that gives you more motivation to keep repeating the same things because you have to keep the standard of cricket up and keep bringing in consistent performances. From that point of view, these awards give you that extra motivation,” he added.
Meanwhile, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson praised Kohli as well asl every cricketer who picked the award during the world body’s annual awards.
“Sincere congratulations to every one of our individual winners and those players named in our ICC Test and ODI teams of the year. Special mention must go to Virat Kohli, who becomes the first ever player to win the Sir Garfield Sobers award along with Test Player of the Year and ODI Player of the Year and be named as captain of both teams,” he said.
Richardson stressed that in order to be recognized as a true cricketing great, one need to be successful in all format of the game and Kohli has become a great ambassador for our sport.
“This is well-deserved recognition for an extraordinary talent. His regard for the game and particularly for Test cricket is also recognized and appreciated. He is passionate in his support of the longest form of the game and its continued importance,” he said.
Kohli had won the Sir Garfield Trophy and ICC ODI Player of the Year awards last year and was also the ICC ODI Player of the Year in 2012.
‘Kohli will break all records created by Tendulkar’
Karachi:Pakistan’s legendary batsman Zaheer Abbas joined the bandwagon of former greats terming Indian captain Virat Kohli as the best batsman in world cricket who will break all the records of Sachin Tendulkar.
Kohli currently has 39 ODI hundreds and is only 10 short of Tendulkar’s 49.
Appearing on the Gsports show on GTV News channel, Zaheer advised cricket pundits to always keep in mind the era, conditions and opposition while assessing a batsman.
“I think at the moment Virat is the best. He will break all the records. But not only Virat, the Indian team has other top batsmen too. If you look at Rohit Sharma, you are just delighted to watch his strokes. One can only appreciate the beauty of his strokes. The variety of strokes in possession of Indian batsmen counts a lot,” Abbas said.
It all boils down to skills, said Abbas, who was considered a batting artist during his best years.
“Obviously, the confidence will come when you have so many strokes and when you know how to stay at the wicket. These skills don’t come easily. It takes time and hard work and one needs to develop a system for this,” he said.
Zaheer, who played 78 Tests and 62 ODIs, was also candid in stating that even top Pakistani batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq had still not reached that standard.
“They are our players and I want to see our batsmen do very well. But at this stage, they have not reached that standard that I can feel proud of. They haven’t come up to world standards as yet,” he said.
Abbas said there was a time when Pakistan used to beat India regularly but in recent times the neighbouring country’s cricket structure had improved a lot and their system is producing some top quality players.
“Not only their batsmen but even their bowlers. They have improved a lot and this is because their board had the foresight to set up the MRF pace academy years back and get Dennis Lillee as their first coach to help groom their pacers,” he said.
“India at this moment is a top side. Their standards have improved a lot, especially after the IPL because they don’t allow their players to go and play anywhere else.
They are giving so much financial security to their players.”
Pant is ICC’s Emerging Cricketer of 2018
Dubai:India’s young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant was on Tuesday named as the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018.
“Congratulations to @RishabPant777, the ICC Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018!,” ICC tweeted.
Pant is the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a Test century in England and Australia. The youngster also equalled the record for the most catches taken in a Test, with 11 during the Adelaide Test in December.
Left-handed Pant produced some fine knocks during the voting period and getting off the mark in Test cricket with a six only highlighted his potential. He scored 537 runs with a century and two fifties in eight Tests during the voting period with 40 catches and two stumpings. In three ODIs, he scored 41 runs and took three catches and in eight T20Is scored 114 runs and pouched two catches.