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2016 in Retrospect: With stupendous performances, 2016 has been a year of fireworks for Indian Cricket

India not only whitewashed the Kiwis 3-0 but also grabbed their spot back on top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings

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Indian Cricket Team. Facebook

New Delhi, December 25, 2016: It has been a year of fireworks for Indian cricket. The players have unfurled stupendous performances to close the year as the top ranked Test team, while off the field, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) top brass have been at the receiving end of the Supreme Court’s ire for defying the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee’s recommendations.

The year started with India reclaiming the lost glory in the T20 format in which they were the inaugural champions in 2007, and eventually ended with the team completing a 4-0 humiliation of England to consolidate the numero uno spot in the longest format.

While Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team lost out to eventual champions West Indies in the World Twenty20 semi-finals, Virat Kohli ensured that 2016 ended with India extending their winning streak to 18 Tests — the longest since March 1987.

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Here is a look at India’s overall performance throughout the year:

With the focus on T20s, India started the year with the limited overs tour Down Under where the Men-In-Blue flunked miserably in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series to go down 1-4. However, India bounced back well in the shortest format, completing a 3-0 whitewash of the Kangaroos in their own den.

Back home, India had to pass the Sri Lankan test before proceeding to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup T20. The hosts were off to a shocking loss to the young Sri Lankan side in the first match, but Dhoni’s army soon rediscovered their mojo to win the next two matches and win the series.

After the 2-1 drubbing of Sri Lanka, India headed to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup, which was clipped to a T20 tournament for the first time ever. The Indians defeated the hosts in their first outing before convincingly outclassing their arch-rivals Pakistan, and went on to beat Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In the rain-marred final, India were up against the home side, but Dhoni’s men had no trouble in lifting the title. The Asia Cup title put India in good stead to reclaim the World T20 crown, which has been evading them since the inaugural edition in 2007.

Hosted for the first time in India, the home side went into the tournament as the hot favourites but Dhoni’s men were off to a nightmarish start, losing to New Zealand in their opening match.

The hosts, however, recovered from the early jolt as they beat Pakistan in their next outing before winning a nail-biting tie against Bangladesh and then needed a Virat Kohli-special to tame Australia in a must-win tie.

Despite getting their campaign back on track with three hard-fought wins, India went down to eventual champions, the West Indies, in the semi-final played at the Wankhede Stadium — to be deprived of the title once again.

A week after the World T20, the Indian Premier League (IPL) started and it mostly centred on a marauding Virat Kohli, who took T20 batting to a completely new level, slamming four centuries to end as the highest run-getter with 973 runs.

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Despite his glorious run with the willow, Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) once again failed to lift the title, as they lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the final.

The IPL followed the brief tour to Zimbabwe, where a second string Indian side was enough to dish out a 3-0 whitewash to the hosts. But the African minnows salvaged some pride in the first T20 before India managed to find their feet and clinch the remaining two games to pocket the series 2-1.

India then headed off to the West Indies to kick off their long Test season ahead. Kohli led the team from the front in the first Test with his maiden double ton to comprehensively beat the hosts by an innings and 92 runs before drawing the remaining two matches as India got back to the No.1 ranking again, albeit for a short while.

After the Tests, both the sides headed to Florida in the United States, where they faced off in two T20 Internationals.

India suffered a nail-biting one-run defeat in the first T20I before incessant rain disrupted the next match midway after the West Indies’ innings.

Back in their own den, Kohli’s boys after losing their No.1 rank to Pakistan had nothing but one thing on mind — to reclaim their number one spot in the three-Test rubber against New Zealand.

India not only whitewashed the Kiwis 3-0 but also grabbed their spot back on top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings.

Thereafter, the Blackcaps gave a good fight in the five-match ODI series, where fortunes fluctuated after each game to make it 2-2, the final game in Visakhapatnam becoming the decider. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra’s heroics (5/18) helped India romp home comfortably to take the series 3-2.

After barely a week’s rest, Kohli’s brigade was up for the English challenge, involving five Tests against a side to whom they had lost their last three series drastically.

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After drawing the first Test at Rajkot, Kohli and Co. took the challenge hands down as India handed Alastair Cook’s men a 4-0 drubbing to end the year at the zenith of the Test rankings with 120 points.

In the limited-overs formats, India finished the year at No.3 in ODIs and at No.2 in T20Is.

Off the field, it was the tussle between the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee and the BCCI that created the headlines.

Despite repeated warnings from the apex court, including possible charges of perjury against the incumbent BCCI President Anurag Thakur and Secretary Ajay Shirke, to adhere to the Lodha panel’s recommendations for cleansing the mess within the cricket board, an adament BCCI is still to toe the Supreme Court’s line. (IANS)

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2019 is One of India’s Best Years in Cricket: Virat Kohli

Indian cricket in 2019 - A moment to remember

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Virat Kohli Cricket
Indian Cricket team captain Virat Kohli feels that 2019 was the best year for Indian cricket. Wikimedia Commons

BY YAJURVINDRA SINGH

Captain Virat Kohli’s final statement on Indian cricket at the end of the year was so true. He said, “2019 is one of India’s best years in cricket barring those 30 minutes at the World Cup.” If one reflects on the performance of Indian cricket in 2019 which started with a bang by beating Australia in a Test match series, for the first time, in Australia. This truly remarkable achievement by the Indian side not only gave it that much needed boost to their morale and confidence but also established them as the best Test side in the world.

There were a few defeats during the year but most of them were account of experimenting, resting senior players and giving opportunities to Indian players sitting on the bench.

The most significant moment that humbled the strong Indian cricket side and the year’s performances was their semi-final defeat against New Zealand in the World Cup. The Indian team had played extraordinarily well to head their group in the preliminary stage, losing only to the ultimate winners, England. Chasing a moderate total of 239 runs for victory, India’s formidable top order collapsed in just 30 minutes and were tottering at 24 for 4 even before the first 10 overs were bowled. India never recovered from that blow and their dream of winning another World Cup faded in the horizon.

India Cricket
The most significant moment that humbled the strong Indian cricket side and the year’s performances was their semi-final defeat against New Zealand in the World Cup. Wikimedia Commons

Looking back at the curtains now drawn for the year, this was perhaps the only blemish that tarnished the significant performances of the India side. The great West Indian side had a similar moment in the 1983 final when they lost to India in the World Cup. To them then, it looked like a total that they would normally chase without blinking an eyelid, but, it turned out to be their nemesis.

Cricket has these uncertain moments and the song, “one moment in time” sung by the wonderful singer Whitney Huston for the summer Olympics in 1988 held in Seoul, is so appropriate, not only for an individual but also for a team. These precious moments are all that one hopes and prays for, in the life of a sportsman. This is what finally establishes them and the team of being a winner or an also ran.

The South African cricket side is a good example of how mental pressure of failure could even affect future teams. They have on many occasions looked like a winning side in an ICC tournament and have failed to deliver due to several different reasons. The side is now branded in world cricket as “chokers” and this tag, unfortunately, has remained every time their side plays in another ICC World Cup tournament. They have in the last two decades produced some outstanding cricketers, but somehow lady-luck has never blessed them when they most need it to break out of the barriers of the past.

The year 2020 has the World T20 later in the year in Australia. India will be one of the likely tournament favourites, especially as they have two of the best T20 batsmen in Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as well as three of the top pace bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. At present, the likely Indian T20 team will comprise of a majority of the players who were part of their World Cup 2019 side.

Indian cricket team
The skills, confidence and capability of the Indian cricket team are well known. Wikimedia Commons

This is a major factor that concerns one. For India to be successful, they will need to forget those disastrous 30 minutes of their moment in time of the year 2019. The skills, confidence and capability of the Indian side are well known to one and all, but the team will be tested more on their mental rather than on their cricketing capabilities.

This is where the BCCI will need to play a significant part in ensuring that a mental coaching and strengthening is also an important part in the preparation of the side for the World Cup T20.

International cricket is played more in the mind than on the field. For them to be at the world stage, already makes them players who have the potential and skill to be there. With less than a dozen T20I games left in the Indian calendar before their first World T20 match on October 24, 2020, they not only require to fill the million dollar question that still prevails about the middle order batters, but also, about their mental preparation for the task ahead.

The IPL (Indian Premier League) will play an important part in the final composition of the Indian T20 side, but playing for a franchise is completely different from when one wears the Indian colours.

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With more than a billion people following every step of the teams’ progress and the added responsibility of playing for the nation, the pressures are as different as chalk and cheese.

One wishes the Indian team a super 2020, with victory over New Zealand and Australia in order to qualify for the final of the ongoing World Test Championship, as well as for them to bring the World T20 trophy home — a cup that they won in the inaugural year of 2007. (IANS)

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Cricket Icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni to Back Show on Army Officers

"January tak mat poocho (don't ask me till January)," said Dhoni at an event in Ranchi before questions on his break, which started with India's semi-final loss to New Zealand in the World Cup in July, could even be asked

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Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Wikimedia Commons

Indian cricket icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be producing an anthology telling stories of decorated army officers.

Studionext in collaboration with Dhoni, who is a Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army, will bring forward the unique anthology of episodic stories.

“The show will narrate stories of the brave Param Vir Chakra and Ashoka Chakra awardees. With compelling stories and intriguing content on board, the show is slated for a 2020 release,” said a source.

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Age is just a number, but you have to be very fit, says Dhoni. Wikimedia Commons

According to a report, the TV series will tell personal stories of military officers as Dhoni wants to bring the journey of people serving the country into the limelight through his show.

At present, the show is being scripted, and the team is sorting out the formalities to get the shooting started.

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Dhoni took a sabbatical after India’s campaign in the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Earlier this month, Dhoni had said that he won’t talk about his much-awaited comeback till January.

“January tak mat poocho (don’t ask me till January),” said Dhoni at an event in Ranchi before questions on his break, which started with India’s semi-final loss to New Zealand in the World Cup in July, could even be asked. (IANS)

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Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma Bag New Brand Endorsement

The couple, fondly called Virushka, have endorsed brands like Head and Shoulders and Manyavar

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Celebrities are also normal human beings -- just like any other person, and I feel people should let them have their space,
Virat and Anushka Sharma at an event, wikimedia commons

Star couple Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma have been roped in as the first official brand ambassadors of Flipkart-owned ecommerce platform, Myntra.

Its campaign ‘Go Myntra-la-la’ brings alive the joyful experience of shopping and kicks-off with an ad film starring the star couple, read a statement.

Virat and Anushka share a lot of common passions, and shopping is one of them.

Amar Nagaram, Head at Myntra-Jabong, said: “The association of Bollywood and sports with fashion needs no introduction and hence having Virat and Anushka as the face of this new campaign will enable us to build strong brand salience and establish the joy and convenience of shopping on Myntra.”

The musical film opens with viewers witnessing Anushka pushing a shopping cart with Virat sitting in it. It then goes to Anushka, walking in style as she comes next to a fashion billboard, she whips out her smart phone and taps the brand icon and scans the floral dress on the billboard.

Anushka Virat to tie the knot in Italy!!!
Anushka, Virat got married in Italy.

The app throws up the same dress, ready to be shopped.

In the film, however, the editor takes us straight to Anushka continuing her walk with the new dress. It then cuts to Virat browsing through various sneaker options to choose from before he settles on his perfect pair.

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The film goes back to the couple enjoying a moment of fun with a shopping cart.

The couple, fondly called Virushka, have endorsed brands like Head and Shoulders and Manyavar. (IANS)