Stump-hoarding Dhoni eyes more memorabilia at World T20

News4u-Sports Desk- Mahendra Singh Dhoni has grown a reputation as a notorious hoarder of souvenir stumps and considering India’s imperious form going into the World Twenty20, few would be surprised if he adds one more to his formidable collection on April 3.

After all, inaugural champions India go into the sixth edition of the tournament as the top-ranked team in the world, having won 10 of their 11 matches this year.

India started off the year blanking Australia in a three-match series before following that up with an Asia Cup triumph in Bangladesh.

Seeking to ride that momentum all the way to a second World Twenty20 title, India’s most successful captain has the comfort of being able to take on the challenge on home soil.

The flip side of India’s home advantage is the burden of expectations from an unforgiving 1.2 billion cricket fans but Dhoni has not earned his “Captain Cool” moniker for nothing.

Five years after calmly hitting a six to seal India’s 50-over World Cup triumph on a humid April night in Mumbai, Dhoni, who plays only shorter formats, seems to have all the necessary resources to triumph once more in the final phase of his career.

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have forged a potent right-left combination at the top followed by batting mainstay Virat Kohli, all three capable of winning matches single-handedly.

In Suresh Raina and Dhoni, India are lucky to have two batsmen who can effortlessly shift gears, while all-rounder Hardik Pandya can also bash a few out of the ground.

YORKERS AT WILL

Much to Dhoni’s relief, the team seemed to have finally fixed their death bowling issue.

In Jasprit Bumrah, India have discovered a bowler who can bowl yorkers almost at will, a virtue not really common in India. Even better, those are hurled with an unorthodox action which makes it even more difficult to pick them.

“The good thing with Bumrah is he technically has bit of pace,” Dhoni said.

“He does not have a normal action, so batsman also takes time to get used to it. At the same time, his execution of yorkers is also very good.”

Ravichandran Ashwin’s cunning and control — best combined in the ‘carrom ball’ that he flicks with his finger — has troubled the best in the business and the off-spinner will be a dangerous weapon in familiar conditions.

Apart from the fitness concerns around paceman Mohammed Shami, the team seem to have no real worries and Dhoni already has set his eyes on collecting more memorabilia.

“It would be great. I have to do my post-cricket plans you see,” he said at a recent promotional event.

“I don’t mark the stumps that I collect. (Post-retirement) I’d watch the matches, look at the stumps and say ‘ok, this is from that match’. I have enough to keep me occupied for years.”Reuters

M S Dhoni

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Afghanistan thump Zimbabwe to storm into World T20 Super 10s

News4u-Sports Desk- Afghanistan produced an inspiring performance as they progressed through to the main draws of the World Twenty20 after completing a comprehensive 59-run win over Zimbabwe in Nagpur on Saturday.

Electing to bat, Afghanistan made 186 for six in their stipulated 20 overs, thanks to Mohammad Nabi’s quick-fire knock of 52 off just 32 balls.

Afghanistan opener Mohammad Shahzad provided the initial thrust with a 23-ball 40 before his side lost some wickets in quick succession.

However, Nabi constructed a solid 98-run partnership with Samiullah Shenwari (43) to help his side post a formidable target.

In reply, Zimbabwe struggled to build partnerships amidst hovering run rate as they were bundled out for 127 in the 19.4 overs.

Meanwhile, Oman, who stunned Ireland in their first group encounter, will look to continue their giant killing run when they will take on Bangladesh in order to secure the remaining spot in the Super 10 stage on Sunday. (ANI)

Afghanistan thump Zimbabwe to storm into World T20 Super 10s

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Du Plessis eyeing World T20 to erase Proteas’ `chokers` tag

News4u-Sports Desk- South Africa T20 skipper Faf du Plessis has admitted that his side’s reputation as big-match chokers had become a ‘monkey on the back’ but believes that winning an international trophy will only help them get rid of that tag.

Despite boasting a solid squad, South Africa have often been labelled as chokers as they have fallen agonisingly short in the sport’s biggest events on several occasions.

Du Plessis admitted that the criticisms against his side are fair, adding that the only way they can get rid of that tag was to perform under pressure, Sport24 reported.

The 31-year-old batting mainstay, however, said that they had been dealing better at crunch points in tight matches in recent times.

South Africa will play against England in the opening match of the World T20 in Mumbai on Friday. (ANI)

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Akram rates Kohli as `world’s best batman`

News4u-Sports Desk- Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram has showered praise on Indian prolific cricketer Virat Kohli, describing him as the ‘best batsman in the world’.

The 49-year-old believes Kohli was currently at that phase of his career where the batsmen learn to score runs in every situation.

Admitting that the Indian batsman plays with authority in all the three formats of the game, the former left-arm pacer said that he would have found it extremely difficult to bowl against him, the Express Tribune reported.

Despite agreeing that India have been performing very well, Akram refused to consider them as hot favourites to grab this year’s World T20 title. He said that it was really difficult to predict the winner of the prestigious T20 tournament.

Expressing his views on Pakistan’s dismal performance in the recently-concluded Asia Cup, Akram said that his side were unpredictable and that Shahid Afridi’s side have the ability to surprise any team.

Pakistan will start their World T20 campaign at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on March 16. (ANI)

Akram

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`Confident` Dhoni insists India upbeat over World T20 title

News4u-Sports Desk- India’s limited-over skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday expressed confidence on winning the upcoming World T20 in the country, saying that the team has all the required ingredients and qualities needed to clinch the title.

“I have the belief and also the talent as required to win a big tournament. This team has all the ingredient. What will be important is to keep the team fit and at the same time try to give as many games as to all the individuals who are the part of the side. A lot of that will also depend upon where we are positioned in the tournament, in Asia Cup, especially. After which we have two games before the World T20 Cup starts. I feel if everybody gets chance to play, it will be very good for us,” Dhoni told the media ahead of Asia Cup.

Reflecting on his side’s strategy, the 34-year-old said that India would try to dismiss the big hitters as early as possible in order to keep the match in their favour.

“It’s all about the team and the talent you have. But ultimately you have to go and do well on the field. That’s what cricket is all about. In this format, you have to keep the big hitters away from the game. If you are playing against a team that have two big hitters. You have to make sure that they don’t score a runs because if the big hitters are scoring the run then they will usually take the game from you,” he added.

The wicketkeeper-batsman also hoped for fast bowler Mohammad Shami’s quick fitness, insisting that he would strengthen his side’s bowling attack.

Shami has been ruled out of the Asia Cup due to hamstring injury. His availibility for World T20 is also unlikely.

“Of course he will have to prove his fitness. If he doesn’t, we have replacement. He has been one bowler who has bowled really well for us with the new ball and also at the depth. If he will be fit then our bowling attack will look better,” Dhoni said.

Dhoni further expressed his views on New Zealand retiring skipper Brendon McCullum, who smashed the fastest Test century during his side’s second Test against Australia.

He took just 54 balls to reach the three-figure landmark, surpassing former West Indies skipper Vivian Richards and Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq’s record of 56 balls.

Dhoni lavished praise on McCullum and described him as a good ambassador of cricket.

“He is just a fantastic cricketer. He is also a wicketkeeper-batsman. He has played a lot of ODI, T20s for New Zealand. He is the kind of batsman who really entertains the crowd right from the very first ball. He has been a very good brand ambassador when it comes to cricket,” Dhoni insisted.

India are going into next week’s Asia Cup T20 in Bangladesh as the number one team in the world and will aim to lift the shortest format’s pinnacle event title for a second time. (ANI)

M S DHONI

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