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Cricket

Steven Smith ton in vain as Lions secure last-ball win -
4/30/2016 11:37:48 AM

Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum added 72 in the powerplay to set up Lions' chase
Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum added 72 in the powerplay to set up Lions' 

Steven Smith's maiden Twenty20 (T20) ton went in vain as blistering efforts from Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum helped Gujarat Lions register a three-wicket win over Rising Super Supergiants. Steven Smith's 54-ball 101, along with solid contributions from Ajinkya Rahane (53) and MS Dhoni (30 not-out off 18) helped Pune post a formidable total of 195 for 3 after they were asked to bat first. Gujarat Lions rode on Dwayne Smith's 37-ball 63 and his 93-run association with McCullum (43) to get off to a blazing start in the chase. However, the finish was closer than they would have expected. They lost quick wickets in the middle overs and in the death, but managed to get over the line off the last ball.

Gujarat's victory, their sixth in seven games, helped them consolidate top spot in the points table. The loss was the Supergiants' fifth in seven games and also their second in as many matches against the Lions.

Only nine runs came off the first two overs in the chase before McCullum got stuck into Albie Morkel, scoring three fours and a six in an over that yielded 24 runs, to get Gujarat going in the chase. Dwayne Smith too, hit the straps soon after, taking a liking to Ashok Dinda and Thissara Perera as the half-century stand came up in only 25 deliveries. Ravichandran Ashwin, brought on for the final over of the powerplay, conceded 10, while Dwayne Smith had a lucky break when Perera couldn't hold on to a tough catch. Gujarat amassed 72 runs in the powerplay, their third 70-plus score during the fielding restrictions for them. It was also the highest powerplay score in this edition of the IPL.

The McCullum-Smith alliance was eventually ended when the former, in his attempt to sweep Rajat Bhatia, top-edged the ball to Albie Morkel to depart for a 22-ball 43. However, Dwayne Smith soon brought up his fifty, off 28 deliveries, taking the total to 112 for 1 at the half-way stage.

It was imperative that Pune picked up a wicket or two to pull things back and they managed one when Dwayne Smith, looking to guide a Perera delivery to the off-side, got an inside edge onto the stumps. They could have had another had Suresh Raina not put in a full-length dive to save himself from being run out. A lull followed as Gujarat had to do without a boundary for 25 deliveries. But Dinesh Karthik did manage a few in the overs to follow, bringing down the equation to 49 off the last five overs.

The third-wicket pair raised a half-century stand before Karthik's outing came to an end, when his attempted loft went awry and found Rahane at deep mid-wicket. Murugan Ashwin conceded only four in the 18th over, which left Gujarat needing 20 off the last two. Dwayne Bravo chased a wide one off Ashok Dinda and managed a boundary off the first ball in the penultimate over. But an attempt to repeat the shot resulted in his departure off the next delivery. Ravindra Jadeja was run out without scoring when he tried to sneak a bye but a four and a couple off the last two deliveries meant that Gujarat needed nine off the final over.

James Faulkner started with a boundary off the first ball and Perera, who was handed the ball for the all-important over, bowled a wide and then conceded a single. But Pune kept the fight on as Raina was bowled for 34 and Ishan Kishan was run out soon after. But a poor throw by Rahane from long-off, resulted in two runs off the penultimate delivery. A wicket or a dot was needed for a Super Over to come into picture, but that was not to be as Faulkner managed to put the ball away to long-on to clinch victory.

Earlier, Rahane looked as solid as ever at the top of the order, but Pune suffered an early setback as Saurabh Tiwary, asked to open in the absence of Faf du Plessis, was run out courtesy a superb bit of fielding by Raina. Steven Smith, who came in next, kept himself busy by by running the quick singles and twos. On a greenish wicket, the Gujarat new-ball bowlers were guilty of erring in their lines and were made to pay as Steven Smith and Rahane put on a steady partnership.

Shivil Kaushik, the left-arm chinaman bowler, on his IPL debut, bowled an interesting first over. The 20-year-old, with an action similar to Paul Adams, the former South African spinner, got a couple to hurry on to Rahane, troubling the senior pro. However, he also bowled a few short deliveries, one of which Steven Smith was able to put away, as the second-wicket pair raised a half-century stand off 33 deliveries. While Jadeja, bowled a tight couple of overs, Kaushik leaked runs. The young spinner also overstepped when he had Steven Smith bowled, giving the Australian a lucky break. To add insult to injury, the next ball was dispatched over the long-off boundary for the first six of the innings.

Steven Smith went on to bring up a half-century off 29 balls and the total crossed 100 in the 12th over, with the pair providing an ideal platform for a flourishing finish to the innings. A six and a four off consecutive deliveries for Steven Smith, off Faulkner, took the partnership past 100, Pune's first in the IPL, before Rahane registered a 43-ball fifty. However, Rahane had to depart soon after, run-out at the non-striker's end after being turned down for a quick single. The dismissal though did not have any bearing on the scoring rate, which in fact got a further boost when Steven Smith and Dhoni bludgeoned a flurry off sixes off the spinners.

Bravo too did not have the best of times with the ball or on the field as Steven Smith and Dhoni raised a half-century stand off 28 deliveries. In the final over Steven Smith registered his maiden T20 hundred in style, with a boundary off Bravo, before being bowled off the next delivery. The last-ball specialist that Dhoni is, finished the over with a boundary to power Pune to a sizeable total. As many as 51 runs were scored in the last four overs while none of the Gujarat bowlers, barring Dhawal Kulkarni, had an economy rate of less than nine. But it counted for little as the Lions eventually went past Pune's total.

Brief scores: Rising Pune Supergiants 195/3 in 20 overs (Steven Smith 101, Ajinkya Rahane 53, MS Dhoni 30*; Dwayne Bravo 1-40) lost to Gujarat Lions 196/7 in 20 overs (Dwayne Smith 63, Brendon McCullum 43, Suresh Raina 34; Ashok Dinda 2-40) by 3 wickets.

India to host T20 WC for the Blind -
4/30/2016 11:36:48 AM

The tournament will feature 48 matches and will be played on league-cum-knockout format across India.
The tournament will feature 48 matches and will be played on league-cum-knockout format across India. 

India will host the second edition of the Twenty20 World Cup for the Blind from November 12-27 later this year, the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) said in a statement on Friday (April 29).

The tournament will feature 48 matches and will be played on league-cum-knockout format across India.

Australia, Bangladesh, England, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Nepal have confirmed their participation.

India, led by Shivamogga lad Shekar Naik, had clinched the inaugural T20 World Cup in Bengaluru in 2014.

Supreme Court ordered reforms in BCCI to stay till Parliament enacts law -
4/30/2016 11:35:35 AM

The Supreme Court said it would force the cricket board to implement most of the radical reforms recommended by the Justice R M Lodha panel.
The Supreme Court said it would force the cricket board to implement most of the radical reforms recommended by the Justice R M Lodha panel

The writing on the wall became clear for the BCCI with the Supreme Court on Friday saying it would force the cricket board to implement most of the radical reforms recommended by the Justice R M Lodha panel.

Worse, the court said it would clarify in its judgment that the reforms implemented in the functioning of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would hold good till Parliament enacted a law to regulate cricket management.

A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and F M I Kalifulla said, "Our directions for implementation of reforms in the BCCI will remain in force till Parliament enacts a legislation. We will say so in our judgment."

Appearing for Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, senior advocate Arvind Datar said it was incongruous for the SC to force reforms in a private association that would set off a chain reaction forcing all association members to change their bylaws to keep their BCCI membership intact.

The bench asked a simple question and provided the answer too. "Can you tell which of the Lodha panel recommendations are perverse and unimplementable? All of you agreed that the recommendations are good, well-meaning and made in good faith. What is the harm in implementing them? If the recommendations are not outrageous, then let them be implemented," it said.

Datar attempted to sidestep the unplayable delivery by drawing the court's attention to the similar state of affairs in other sports bodies like badminton, kabbadi and table tennis.The bench said, "We have not shut our door for reforms in those associations. But cricket has altogether a different dimension in India. That is why we took up the issue and entrusted Justice R M Lodha panel to suggest reforms."

Datar said the court started with betting and spot-fixing in IPL 2013 but had now gone into reforms in the entire structure. "This is like a doctor detecting a tumour in a body and then, while removing it, slashing and bruising the entire body," he said.

The bench was caustic in its response. "Spot-fixing and betting were only symptoms of a dreaded disease deep inside the BCCI. That is why the Lodha panel was set up to diagnose the disease and suggest remedial measures. It has now suggested reme dial measures," it said.

Appearing for Orissa Cricket Association, senior advocate K V Vishwanathan took the much beaten track to oppose radical reforms in BCCI saying it would amount to rewriting the bylaws of a private association governed by the Tamil Nadu Societies Act and it would have a ripple effect on all state associations.

Appearing for Sports Promotion Boards of Services and Railways, additional solicitor general Maninder Singh said the Lodha panel's one state-one vote recommendation should not affect the membership of Services and Railways in BCCI.

"These two are founder members and recruit thousands of sportspersons including cricketers cutting across state boundaries and nurture them while giving them a chance to play at the national level. These two bodies do not draw a single penny from the BCCI yet have created infrastructure in many states. Why should they be deprived of vote in BCCI and consequently of a say in the decisionmaking process," he said.

SC TO BCCI: Are you a Vedic society?

When BCCI and its state bodies opposed the Lodha panel's recommendation to bar those over 70 from cricket management, the Supreme Court asked, "Are you a Vedic society where age is no impediment to chanting mantras or discussing religious philosophy?" The SC asked, "Why should the age limit be 70 years and not 50 years? If you want to accommodate veterans and provide them with facilities, then have an advisory committee."

Public interest litigation kills Jaipur's IPL hopes -
4/30/2016 11:34:42 AM

State sports minister Gajendra Singh Khinvsar, who had put in his heart and soul in getting the matches to Jaipur, was obviously very disappointed.
State sports minister Gajendra Singh Khinvsar, who had put in his heart and soul in getting the matches to Jaipur, was obviously very disappointed.

This was bound to happen. This city, which was undergoing an euphoria following the BCCI's decision to grant three IPL matches to Sawai Mansingh Stadium here, suddenly experienced the sinking feeling when it was announced that Mumbai Indians have preferred Visakhapatnam as their second home.

The decision followed a PIL filled at the Rajasthan High Court, which is still pending. The HC, after hearing the PIL on April 27, had asked the Rajasthan government to file its reply on May 3. On the same day, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea by Maharashtra and Mumbai cricket associations against shifting the matches out of the drought-hit state.

The IPL governing council, understandably, felt there was too much uncertainty and any decision after May 3 would leave them with too less a time to prepare. Perhaps wisely, it decided to act before it was too late.

State sports minister Gajendra Singh Khinvsar, who had put in his heart and soul in getting the matches to Jaipur, was obviously very disappointed. "I knew in the morning itself that we are going to lose these matches," he told TOI on Friday .

Viv Richards slams ICC for blatant double standards -
4/30/2016 11:32:33 AM

"When you look around the world in terms of the governance of the ICC, there are rules for some and not others.

Sir Vivian Richards lashed out at the International Cricket Council for its official reprimand of West Indies. A furious Richards said that the governing body had one rule for Darren Sammy's side and another for the Indian cricket team.

"There are rules in the one-day game under the auspices of the ICC, like for instance the system where you go back to the third umpire and things like that," Richards was quoted saying by the 'Jamaican Observer' on Thursday (April 28).

"So, if you are the sole governing body of world cricket, then everyone should be coming under the same umbrella. The Indians do not play certain things the ICC may have in its rules. They totally ignore that and they have been getting away with it for years," Richards said.

West Indies skipper Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels were rather vocal while stating their woes with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) after their WT20 triumph. However, following the recently-concluded ICC Board meeting in Dubai, a statement was released by the parent body stating that the West Indies players had been "inappropriate, disrespectful and brought the event into disrepute".

That came after the players got overtly emotional in their celebration with shirts coming off and Samuels's heated exchange with Ben Stokes, who bowled the final over. The ICC added that it wanted to levy charges against the side relative to its Code of Conduct.

The reprimand was not received well by Richards whose anger was apparent. "I am only trying to hit back because of what they are trying to do because of Sammy's comments. They are trying to be a body that if you say this, it's out of order then you're going to be this and you're going to be that.

"When you look around the world in terms of the governance of the ICC, there are rules for some and not others," he said.

Lodha may be forcing BCCI president's hand -
4/29/2016 11:51:13 AM

Most top BCCI officials are professionals or politicians or businessmen and are now of the view that if the country's highest court wants to change things the way it sees it right, there's not much that can be done.
Most top BCCI officials are professionals or politicians or businessmen and are now of the view that if the country's highest court wants to change things the way it sees it right, there's not much that can be done.

The growing uncertainty over whether BCCI president Shashank Manohar will continue in his present position till the end of his tenure or quit midway to head to the International Cricket Council (ICC) as its first independent chairman may have to do with the recommendation of the Lodha committee and Supreme Court's insistence that the board adopts it completely .

The Lodha committee had recommended the one-state, one-vote philosophy in January this year, an idea which is still being argued against by the BCCI in the Supreme Court. However, given the way the apex court has gone after the Board, asking that the recommendation be considered with immediate effect, sources say Manohar has already given up on making the judges see things any other way. "He's tired of the way things are going. Not just him, but most BCCI officials, who are now saying 'well, if the court wants to do what it wants to do, then why stay around? We might as well carry on with our lives and professions'," a source said. Most top BCCI officials are professionals or politicians or businessmen and are now of the view that if the country's highest court wants to change things the way it sees it right, there's not much that can be done. "Who wants to keep on fighting court battles. There are other things to do," says a BCCI official.

If the one-state, one-rule recommendation is applied, the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) ­ the association that Manohar represents ­ will cease to exist. "Then, he will anyway won't be an active administrator.In that case, he will anyway have to quit as president of the Board.So, he might as well move on to handling other responsibilities," another official said. Top BCCI officials including secretary Anurag Thakur have recently voiced their frustration over cricket and BCCI being made into `soft targets.' Other than the Lodha battle, they have also been riled by Mumbai HC's order to shift IPL matches out of Maharashtra over the water crisis.

It is to be waited and seen if the court will want to close the matter before the May deadline, when the ICC calls for its secret ballot. To add here, the SC shuts for a month's holiday in mid-May .