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Good week for Indian sports, bad news for cricket board officials

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By Veturi Srivatsa

Good news for Indian sports in the last one week. The men’s and women’s teams have won the Twenty20 cricket series in Australia even as tennis star Sania Mirza claimed her first women’s doubles title at the Australian Open, and Pusarla Venkata Sindu clinched the Malaysian Badminton Masters. A rare coincidence!

The focus is back on the sports, coming out of courtrooms and board rooms, or so it appeared. But the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee recommendations to cleanse Indian cricket and its administration continue to be a subject matter of intense discussion among the state associations and officials, each one trying to read and interpret the fine print to suit his personal interests.

Even before the detailed Lodha Committee report is fully studied by state associations, as instructed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the appointment of Justice Ajit Prakash Shah as the board’s ombudsman, as suspected, is getting flooded with complaints, the initial ones on the alleged conflict of interest involving some top guns.

Smartly, Justice Shah lobbed the ball back into the court of the complainant, asking for the specific rules under which the allegations can be taken up for examination!

The complaint is against three high-profile administrators, two of these former India cricketers, Sourav Ganguly and Vikram Rathour. The third person dragged into the conflict is board secretary Anurag Thakur. A free-lance journalist from Mumbai found a serious conflict of interest with the functioning of all three.

It was pointed out that Ganguly has business contacts with owners of the new franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and Thakur and Rathour are said to be cousins and have business connections. The issue has apparently been raised because Thakur is the board secretary, and during his tenure as one of the principal office-bearers Rathour was appointed as a national selector.

Justice Shah has taken up the issue with Ganguly and the board for clarification, and even said that he had not heard from Ganguly, though the former India captain insists he had sent in his reply.

Thakur was quick to refute the allegations, stating his business relations with Rathour has nothing to do with cricket and that their families have known each other for four decades.

For good measure, Thakur points to a sinister motive behind the complaints as he sees names of only a particular section of the board officials are being dragged. He also defended the board’s media manager, saying he has no stake in the media company he has been linked to. What Thakur doesn’t say is that the media manager was involved with a couple of former Test stars as their agent.

Whatever Ganguly and Thakur might say, prima facie they cannot deny their personal relations with the people they are involved with and they have to come clean. The complainant has done extensive research before filing his complaints and it is up to the ombudsman to take the call.

Ganguly, who is a member of the IPL Governing Council, is a co-owner of Indian Super League football club Atletico de Kolkata along with well-known businessmen. Nothing wrong with the arrangement till one of the tycoons bought IPL’s new Pune-based franchise. It would be interesting to see how Ganguly explains it away logically with legalese thrown in.

In Thakur’s case it is more personal. He was joint secretary when Rathour was appointed as a national selector and he was secretary when the former India opening batsman got the extension, though Rathour qualifies by virtue of being a former Test player.

The crux of the matter is not whether Rathour deserves to be a selector, the complainant brought into focus Rathour citizenship, pointing out that he is a British and carries that country’s passport.

In the case of the BCCI’s media manager, the allegation is that a family member of his is taking care of his business interests. Here it must be mentioned that he also fits in with the media job as he had worked with electronic media for a few years before getting into event management. His proximity to some top players is all too well known. In the past, there were disparaging whispers about a board’s media adviser being a columnist.

Thakur has also obliquely stated that the appointment of the ombudsman has given rise to some people to make false allegations. Eventually, he has to explain his position and it is for the ombudsman to decide whether there is any conflict of interest in Ganguly and Thakur-Rathour business dealings.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), of which Ganguly is president, is the first state unit to officially come out with objections to 10 of the 21 recommendations of the Lodha Committee!

Good week for sport, bad news of board officials. (IANS)(Photo: www.holdingwilley.com)

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal)

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Will the exciting lineup of new IPL Players get to play in the 2019 Cricket World Cup?

The bench strength looks impressive, but it has to be tested sooner than later.

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When will the exciting IPL stars get a chance if others are allowed to consolidate their positions playing at home? Pixabay

-by Veturi Srivatsa

New Delhi, October 23, 2017 :
 So much of cricket is being played around the world — Tests, One-Day Internationals and Twenty20s. The so-called pecking order is going for a toss with each passing series.

India, who got to the No. 1 position in the One-Day Internationals after beating Australia, vacated it for South Africa who went up beating Bangladesh.

Bangladesh are still playing in South Africa, Sri Lanka in the Gulf, home of Pakistan, and New Zealand are in India for a series each in the two shorter formats. Australia are getting ready for the Ashes and the South Africans will be looking forward to settling a score with India.

Every international side is seriously looking to the 2019 World Cup, building their core component, or is it rebuilding with less than two years for the mega event. Some top cricketers around the world are happy playing in the shorter formats to prolong their careers and with an eye on the pay packages.

There was a time good Test cricketers used to move into the One-Day format on the strength of their technique and fitness. Players now look to get into the Test squad on the weight of their performance in the ODIs. Both the players and the selectors are striking a blance between the long duration domestic cricket and the Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL).

India are going through a peculiar renaissance of sorts. Players who are thought to be indispensable not long ago are being rested, rotated and dropped whichever way one wants to take the selectors’ and team management’s perspective.

Not one or two players, practically the entire Test attack is banished to domestic cricket. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajay Jadeja, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are playing in the ongoing Ranji Trophy just to keep them in the loop. Jadeja is, with a vengeance, scoring hundreds and taking wickets.

The captain and chief coach Ravi Shastri seem to be calling the shots. Virat Kohli, like his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is slowly seeing the back of senior cricketers who he feels are slow coaches in the field, Jadeja being the exception. Both Jadeja and Ashwin had to go out for their inability to take wickets in the middle-overs on a regular basis.

Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal are providing the variety in the attack and importantly they are taking wickets bowling at any stage of the match. Axar Patel is doing the backup job. If Ashwin and Jadeja are in consideration for 2019, then they should also get to bowl a lot of overs before their fate is decided once and for all.

If there are four players good enough to open the innings, none of them is being considered for a middle-order position. Actually, Lokesh Rahul is the man the team management wants to keep him in the squad. He also prefers to open the innings and he just couldn’t adjust at No.4 behind Kohli. Hardik Pandya was tried at four and looked good in one match and then he became a floater, pushing Dhoni up and down.

Ajinkya Rahane continues to be a stop-gap opener, getting an opportunity whenever Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan are out through injuries. Strangely, he is not seen as a middle-order bat after an impression was created that he cannot rotate the strike, though it was during his early years in international cricket.

The other middle-order slots are now with Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey, both have good performances and the powers that be think the two should to be nursed, particularly Jadhav who is not only a handy bowler but also a decent wicket-keeper in an emergency. Rahul is another who keen keep wickets. Amazingly, the squad to play New Zealand has a regular wicket-keeper, Dinesh Karthik as a batsman. He is also seen as a contender for the No.4 position.

Kohli continues to be the man to hold both the top order and in the middle, more so while chasing. His record is amazing going into his 200th match on Sunday against New Zealand in Mumbai. He has 12 hundreds more than Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly who had 18 each at the very stage of their careers.

Kohli’s faith in Dhoni as his onfield consultant gives a totally different connotation to captaincy. None of the Fab Four or Five ever looked demonstrably carrying the side as Dhoni looks today. The arrangement is working out perfectly fine. The two are pulling the the youngsters in the side with them to give them confidence.

When will the exciting IPL stars get a chance if others are allowed to consolidate their positions playing at home? When will Rishab Pant, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana or someone like all-rounder Washington Sundar and fast bowler Mohammad Siraj get a look in?

The bench strength looks impressive, but it has to be tested sooner than later.

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Veturi Srivatsa, a senior journalist and was first published at IANS. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at sveturi@gmail.com)

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Film Stars step out for a Friendly Cricket Match to Raise Awareness and Funds for Cancer Patients

Cricket is something everyone plays since childhood in India. It is the biggest sport in India and to mix it with a social cause is the best thing

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Rajneesh Duggal was part of the crew who played the friendly match. Wikimedia

Mumbai, October 22, 2017 : Film celebrities like Rajneesh Duggall, Zayed Khan and Saqib Saleem stepped out for a friendly cricket match to create awareness and raise funds for cancer patients.

They played as part of the Ink Cricket Blast 2017 here on Saturday.

The cause is close to Rajneesh’s heart as someone in his family is suffering from cancer.

“This is a great initiative and I am always up for a social issue. This is something which is very close to my heart. Someone in my life has been suffering from it and cancer is something I’ve always personally associated with and I feel whatever I can do from my side, I must do,” he said.

“Fukrey” fame actor Varun didn’t participate in the game, but he was there to show support.

“There is always a connection with a social cause. If you combine sports with a social cause, there is nothing better than that! Cricket is something everyone plays since childhood in India. It is the biggest sport in India and to mix it with a social cause is the best thing,” he said.

Saqib said “it’s a great cause and cricket is religion in India”.

The actor is currently finishing a film with Taapsee Pannu. It’s tentatively called “Makhna”, which will come out early next year. (IANS)

 

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Chicago West Loop Cricket Association Celebrates the Spirit of Cricket, Organizes the Super-8 Champions Trophy

The Chicago West Loop Cricket Association organized the Super-8 Champions Trophy in the US on August 26 and 27.

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The champions of the tournament, Hyderabad Blues

Chicago, September 12, 2017: 

Cricket may be more than a religion in India but in the USA, Baseball (a modified version of Cricket) has such a firm grip in terms of popularity and commercial roots that Cricket has remained hitherto unknown. However, as people of Indian diaspora are becoming more visible, Cricket naturally follows them.

In the upend area of West Loop of Chicago downtown, Cricket has registered its presence, thanks to some passionate Indian young men. Their efforts led to the formation of Chicago West Loop Cricket Association.

Twelve teams contested in the Super-8 Champions Trophy organized by the Chicago West Loop Cricket Association in the US on August 26 and 27.  The participants in the Tournament included people from all walks of life- from students currently enrolled in graduate studies to physicians and people working in the corporate sector.

The organizing team of the Chicago West Loop Cricket Association (CWLCA) comprised of Shreenidhi Bharadwaj, Harsha Hegde, Vivek Sarkar, Hari Nikko. Shree Bharadwaj highlighted that the main objective of the tournament was to bring everybody together and promote the spirit of cricket.

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The organizing committee of Chicago West Loop Cricket Association. Shree Bhardwaj is seen with the Mic.

Friendly, yet competitive matches were played between the twelve teams that had an average of over 9 players each. The competition, excitement for the game and the liveliness and spontaneous actions of the players and supporters alike were also noteworthy throughout the tournament.

ALSO READ EXCLUSIVE: Cricket- A Fair Game or Farce!

The teams were divided into four pools,

  • Group A (Westloop Tigers, International Khiladis, Hyderabad Blues)
  • Group B (Smashers, Chennai Super Kings, Westloop Super Stars)
  • Group C (Chicago Lions, UIC, Vanquishers)
  • Group D (Hyderabad Nawab, Westloop Minno, Excallibur)

One team from each pool made it to the semi-finals.

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The Super-8 Champions Trophy was organised by Chicago West Loop Cricket Association

After completing all the league matches, the final match was played between the Hyderabad Blues and the Hyderabad Nawabs. Cricket is a sport known for its uncertainty and the game became even more decisive as the game changed in every few seconds in the nail biting finale. The final few moments of the Tournament were breathless and extremely exciting as Pradeep Goud from Hyderabad Blues hit 4 sixes and 1 four in the first five balls of the last over to lead his team to victory. He was also declared the Man of the Match.

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The runners up, Hyderabad Nawabs

Notable recognition from the tournament,

  • Man of the Series, Best Batsman and the Best fielder – Nagabhushan Gargeshwari
  • Man of the Match (Final) – Janagam Pradeep Goud
  • Best Bowler of the series – Gopinathan
  • Man of the Season: Dharmender Prabhakar

 

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