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.
Would be sitting at home if I think like people from outside: Kohli
Mumbai: Virat Kohli said he would be “sitting at home if he thinks like people from outside”, responding, in his trademark combative style, to Gautam Gambhir’s recent jibe at him, but without taking the former opener’s name.
Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014, recently said that in a result-oriented franchise environment, Kohli has been “lucky” to have survived despite Royal Challengers Bangalore never winning the coveted title in his eight years as skipper.
Asked about it, the batting maestro said, “Obviously, you want to win the IPL. I am doing what I am supposed to do. I don’t care whether I am going to be judged on this (not winning IPL) or not. There is no real, sort of, parameters you set. I try to perform wherever I can. I try to win all the possible titles, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
“We have to be practical about why we haven’t won one. That boils down to bad decision making in pressure situations. If I think like people from outside, I can’t even sustain five games. I would be sitting at home,” Kohli said.
According to Gambhir, one can’t say Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the same breath, as India’s current captain has not won the IPL even once in comparison to his predecessor’s three. Gambhir also compared Kohli with his national team deputy Rohit Sharma, who too have three IPL titles to his credit.
“I know people talk about it a lot and they like to grab opportunities to talk about these things. But I have a responsibility here and given a chance, as a captain, I would love to win the IPL for my team.
“We all are motivated to do so. It has not happened and that’s the reality. No excuses for that. Only acceptance of the faults that we made in the past. The fact that we played six semi-finals means that we have been a side who are always in contention. If we make better decisions, we can go further than that. That’s how I see things,” Kohli added.
The Indian captain was speaking on the eve of the IPL 12 opener between his team and Chennai Super Kings.
To a question if he felt RCB were the underdogs against CSK at home, he said every team that comes here has to be considered so, with the home team being led by Dhoni.
“MS knows exactly what he wants from his team in these conditions. We all have seen that and are aware of it. We are going to be backing our skills and then find ways to come out on top.
“It’s very easy to be overawed by the support that CSK are going to get. In the IPL, people can get carried away by the support that a team like CSK gets at home but we have to focus on our basics.”Kohli also said RCB’s focus this year would be on being consistent and scratching their way to wins.
“It again boils down to how much composure you have in crunch situations. If you see all the teams that have won, they have had players who have stood up and done the job.
“In the past, when we have been close to winning the title, we have just expected things to go our way instead of standing up. That is something we want to correct this season. If we look ugly, we look ugly. It doesn’t matter. We don’t want to be a side just playing flamboyant cricket. We want to be a consistent side,” Kohli said.
AIFF deny I-League clubs’ request to reschedule qualifiers
Mumbai: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has denied the I-League clubs’ request to restart the 2019 Super Cup, Goal can confirm.
Nine I-League clubs had earlier informed the Indian FA that they are willing to take part in the Super Cup 2019 after AIFF president Praful Patel reached out to the clubs on Thursday and assured them that he will hold a meeting with them in mid-April.
After initially deciding to withdraw from the competition citing AIFF’s unfair treatment towards the clubs, the I-League clubs’ unison expressed their willingness to take part in the knock-out competition if all the clubs are allowed to take part.
However, as Goal reported earlier, matches given as walkovers cannot be replayed according to the regulations of the national cup competition. The AIFF has made it clear to the clubs that the regulations must be adhered to and that it would be unfair towards the opposing teams – Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC – that took the field for the matches which did not take place.
Minerva Punjab, Gokulam Kerala FC and Aizawl FC failed to turn up for their Super Cup qualifiers on March 15 and March 16.
Due to the I-League clubs’ absence on the match days, the AIFF awarded Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC wins by virtue of walkovers.
Neymar charged for ‘insulting’ referee in Man United defeat
London: Paris St Germain forward Neymar has been charged for “insulting and/or molesting” the referee following his post-game rant after the French side were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Manchester United, UEFA said.
Neymar, who was sidelined by injury, was investigated for lashing out and labelling the video assistant referee (VAR) system a “disgrace” after United won a controversial penalty in the dying stages to advance on away goals.
“Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United FC (1-3), played on 6 March in France,” UEFA said in a statement.
“Player Neymar Junior – insulting / molesting acts against match official (statements made by the player following the above-mentioned match) – Art. 15 (1) (d) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.”
If the Brazilian is found guilty, he could be suspended for three matches in the competition for insulting match officials.
UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body will look into the case and a date for the hearing is yet to be confirmed.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel had said after the game that he understood Neymar’s anger and defended his comments, saying they were made in the heat of the moment.
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