New Delhi: At over 90kg, Mohammad Shahzad is the complete antithesis of fitness freak Virat Kohli but the Afghan wicketkeeper-batsman says who needs a punishing regimen like the Indian captain when he can hit longer sixes than the world’s No.1 ODI batsman.
Standing at 5’8″, there is seldom a dull moment when the stockily-built Shahzad is around, both on and off the field.
“Dekhiye hum fitness bhi poori karte hain aur khaate bhi poora hain (I work a lot on my fitness but I don’t compromise on food). You want me to have a fitness routine like Kohli, it is not possible, but I am working on it (losing weight),” Shahzad tells PTI in a chat.
The burly 30-year-old cricketer, who has had an eventful international career dating back to 2009, simply plays by his own rules. He knows he is overweight but doesn’t doubt his ability one bit, so much so that he believes that he can hit bigger sixes than Kohli despite not having the exemplary fitness and skill possessed by the Indian captain.
Having played in a refugee camp in Pakistan, the Jalalabad-based player speaks urdu fluently and also passes the hindi test. Remind him of his weight again, Shahzad says not everyone can be like Kohli. “Jitna lamba chakka woh (Kohli) maarte hain, main unse zyadaa maar saktaa hoon, zaroorat kya hain unki tarah itna diet karne ki (I can hit bigger sixes than Kohli so why do I need to follow his diet?),” says the stumper, whose failed attempts at weight-loss had resulted in a one-year doping ban last year.
He spends a lot of time in India and claims to know top Indian cricketers well. He calls M S Dhoni his “closest friend” in the Indian team and also enjoys a good rapport with Suresh Raina and Shikhar Dhawan (he continuously calls India opener ‘Shekhar’).
The cricketer has often faced criticism for being ‘overweight’ but he has hit back at his critics with match-winning performances. He has defied the odds to become Afghanistan’s leading run-getter in T20s and is second only to Mohammad Nabi in ODI runs.
“…My coach (now Phil Simmons) knows that I can keep for 50 overs and bat for 50 overs. I have never seen it (weight) as an issue,” says Shahzad, who is preparing in India with the team for its maiden Test in Bengaluru in June.
He has won his team many games but has also been in the news for wrong seasons. He recently got back into the team after a serving a one-year doping ban. Then he copped a two-game suspension as recent as March during the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe for causing damage to the ground after being upset at his dismissal.
He returned to deliver a ‘man of the match’ performance in the final of the World Cup qualifier against the West Indies. And then two weeks later, his country’s cricket board, ACB, pulled him up for playing a local tournament in Peshawar without its permission and summoned him back to base.
Stokes asked umpires not to add 4 overthrows to England total: Anderson
London: England World Cup hero Ben Stokes asked the umpires to take away the four overthrows that proved decisive during their summit clash win over New Zealand , according to his Test team-mate Jimmy Anderson.
A throw from Black Caps fielder Martin Guptill deflected off Stokes’ bat while he was diving to reach his crease to complete the second run and the ball ran off to the boundary in the dying stages of the England run chase.
Having taken into account the two completed runs and the resultant boundary from the overthrow, Stokes was awarded six runs, though some experts have opined that he should only have got five, which would have left England a run short of New Zealand’s total of 241 for 8.
If Stokes had his way, the match might have never reached a tie and gone to a Super Over, where both teams scored 15 runs and England eventually won the World Cup on boundary count.
Anderson, who will be Stokes’ Test team-mate for the upcoming Ashes series against Australia, said that the England all-rounder, who apologised the moment the incident happened by raising his hands, had appealed to the umpires to overturn their decision.
“The etiquette in cricket is if the ball is thrown at the stumps and it hits you and goes into a gap in the field you don’t run. But if it goes to the boundary, in the rules it’s four and you can’t do anything about it,” Anderson told the BBC’s Tailenders podcast.
“I think, talking to Michael Vaughan who saw him (Stokes) after the game, Ben Stokes actually went to the umpires and said, ‘Can you take that four runs off. We don’t want it’. But it’s in the rules and that’s the way it is,” added Anderson.
“It’s been talked about for a while among the players, potentially that being a dead ball if it does hit the batsman and veer off somewhere.”
Christchurch-born Stokes said after the summit clash that he might have to say sorry “for the rest of my life” for the extra runs which he labelled “fluke”.
Bengaluru to miss out on mainstream football next season?
Mumbai: The city of Bengaluru has been a hotspot for football in recent years, with I-League, Indian Super League (ISL) and AFC Cup matches of Bengaluru FC hosted at the Kanteerava stadium. However, in the upcoming season, the fans in the city could well be starved of mainstream football.
Bengaluru FC find themselves at an impasse after a Karnataka High Court order opened up the possibility of them being barred from using the Kanteerava Stadium from which they play their ISL matches.
The Karnataka High Court has ordered the state government to carry out a probe and initiate action against concerned officials who allowed Bengaluru FC to use the Kanteerava Stadium even after the license agreement came to an end.
Any urgent resolution to the issue seems impossible, given that the case has been adjourned until early October. As such, it remains to be seen what Bengaluru FC will do as the chances of them continuing at the Kanteerava seems slim.
It is understood that Bengaluru have, as of now, uploaded the High Court stay order in place of the stadium documents for the club licensing procedure. The club ideally needs to upload a letter showing the consent of the stadium authorities for using the facilities.
The club, however, can make amendments to the document before August 25.
Sources in the know have told Goal that Bengaluru FC have been considering a few alternate venues. But Bengaluru FC CEO Mandar Tamhane refused to comment on the issue when Goal reached out.
As such, fans in Bengaluru might just miss out on mainstream football for the upcoming season if the issue is not resolved soon.
World Cup win can spur England to Ashes glory: Root
LONDON: England’s Cricket World Cup triumph can be the perfect launch pad to complete a memorable double by winning the Ashes series against Australia this year, Test skipper Joe Root has said.
Hosts England ended a 44-year wait to win the World Cup as they beat New Zealand side on boundary count after a tied Super Over in a dramatic final on Sunday.
Shifting focus to the five-match Ashes series, which begins on Aug 1, the 28-year-old said England were full of confidence as they bid to reclaim the urn having already achieved one of their targets.
“It’s what we set out to do two or three years ago and we’re halfway there,” Root told reporters. “This will give the guys confidence and we’ve talked about taking that forward into a series like that.”
England beat Australia in the World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston, the venue for the first Ashes Test, and Root said they were looking forward to getting back there.
“The way we played against Australia in that semi-final… the guys who were involved relished it and will want a bit more: the feeling of euphoria we felt at that ground,” Root added.
“To potentially be able to experience all that again is very exciting. Ashes cricket always has a different edge to it so that in itself will get everyone going.
“The atmosphere, the way it builds up and the way the guys get excited about it, it’s like no other series in Test cricket.”
However, England must ensure their ODI success does not affect preparations, all-rounder Ben Stokes said.
“Everyone here deserves to feel like a champion because we’ve just won it, but when it comes to the Ashes it’s going to be heads on again because it has to be,” Stokes said. “Whether you’re winning or losing, you’ve just got to wipe the slate clean.”
England warm up for the series with their maiden Test against Ireland, a four-day contest, starting at Lord’s on July 24.