Sports en Sat Nov 06 11:06:36 IST 2021 t20-world-cup-final-the-australia-new-zealand-t20-rivalry-in-numbers <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>For long, every match or series between Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand was seen as a mismatch between two very contrasting sides. Australia were always at the top and New Zealand the underdogs.<br> </p> <p>And despite New Zealand’s better showing at ICC events, the Aussies almost always got the better of them even there—New Zealand have not won even one out of 17 knockout matches against Australia at ICC events</p> <p>Ahead of today’s T20 World Cup final featuring the two, the tables have turned. New Zealand have now reached the finals of ICC events in all three formats since 2019—the ODI World Cup final, the Test Championship final and now the T20 summit clash.</p> <p>Here are some important T20I numbers involving the two sides:</p> <p>- Out of the 14 times the sides have clashed in T20Is, the Aussies have won nine and the Kiwis five</p> <p>- Opener Martin Guptill has played in 12 of those games and is the top scorer for both sides with 435 runs (avg 36.25). Current Australian skipper Aaron Finch is second with 251 runs (avg 62.75)</p> <p>- Former captains Brendon McCullum and Ricky Ponting hold the records for the highest scores for their teams. McCullum scored 116* in 56 balls in 2010, while Ponting scored 98* in 55 balls in 2005, narrowly missing out on a century in the only T20I he played against New Zealand</p> <p>- Spinner Ish Sodhi leads the bowling charts with 16 wickets in 9 matches, while Ashton Agar has the most for Australia with 13 in 9 matches</p> <p>- Sodhi and Agar also have the best bowling figures, both from the bilateral series this year. Agar took 6 for 30 at the match in Wellington on March 3. Sodhi nabbed 4 for 28 in Christchurch on February 22</p> <p>- The only time the two have met in a T20 World Cup was in 2016 in the Super 10 stage. New Zealand won by eight runs that day</p> <p>- In the T20 series held in New Zealand earlier this year, the home side emerged victorious 3-2</p> <p>- Zero. That is how many T20Is Australia’s bowling trio of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc have played against the Kiwis</p> <p>- Among batters who have faced at least 100 balls in these encounters, Glenn Maxwell has the best strike rate of 157.25 in the nine matches he has played</p> <p>- Jimmy Neesham, who has played crucial cameos for the team in this tournament, has a strike rate of 200 in his five matches</p> <p>- The highest team totals between the two were achieved in the same match in February 2018, when Australia chased down New Zealand’s score of 244 in 18.5 overs</p> <p>- New Zealand has the lowest team total of 106. They were bowled out chasing 157 on March 5</p> <p>- Finally, form-wise, Australia have won only 9 of their 21 T20I matches this year, of which 5 of those were of the 6 matches in the ongoing tournament. The team had won only 4 of their 15 matches prior to the tournament, but are in good touch now</p> <p>- New Zealand have won 13 of their 19 T20Is in 2021. As with the Aussies, 5 wins came off the 6 games in the World Cup, which means they had a record of 8 wins in 13 before the tournament</p> <p>- Most importantly, this is the first time both teams are reaching the T20 World Cup final of the seven editions so far</p> Sun Nov 14 13:04:50 IST 2021 yorkshire-racism-row-study-highlights-significant-biases-in-team-selection <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>There's a saying in cricket: <i>Strong Yorkshire, strong England</i>. It dates back to when many of the national men's teams originated from Yorkshire and the health of the county side was seen as indicative of the state of English cricket generally. Today another aspect of Yorkshire cricket is being held up as an indicator of the health of the game—and not in a good way.</p> <p>Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has been engulfed by a racism row in recent weeks, a crisis that has been brewing since Azeem Rafiq—an all-rounder of Pakistani heritage who was captain of the England under-19 team and the youngest captain of the Yorkshire first team—alleged in 2020 there was “institutional racism” at the club.</p> <p>A delayed investigation by the club into the allegations eventually reported that Rafiq had been “the victim of racial bullying and harassment”.</p> <p>Yorkshire's chair and chief executive have since resigned, and a new chair, Lord Kamlesh Patel, has been appointed with the specific brief to investigate institutional racism at the club. A legal claim by Rafiq of discrimination, harassment and victimisation has now been settled, with Patel apologising to the player.</p> <p>As so often happens, distressing details of some of Rafiq's allegations found their way into the media, stoking tensions on all sides, at a time when many sporting teams, including the England national men's cricket team, are choosing to take the knee to reject racism in all sport and wider society.</p> <p>Racism has no place in sport—or indeed society. It's important to understand what constitutes racism and what is and isn't acceptable. Usually the boundaries of what is deemed acceptable behaviour are set by a dominant group or majority, which in professional cricket is white British (and quite often privately educated).</p> <p>As such, the onus is often placed on the minority to accept the majority culture to fit in. While this alone does not equate to racism, it can pave the way for racist language and behaviour to go unchallenged and to be portrayed as “jokes” or “banter”.</p> <p>It would take a particularly strong individual, especially a young player coming into a professional team, to challenge the prevailing culture and risk being ostracised from the group. Left unchallenged, these jokes and this behaviour can develop to outrageous and unacceptable levels, potentially having an unknown detrimental effect on the recipient.</p> <p>One of the results of this is that talented players face the already difficult challenge of achieving their potential in the game, while also consciously or subconsciously adapting to fit in. Our recently published research takes a broad look at participation in elite male cricket in England and Wales and highlights stark racial and socio-economic biases favouring privately educated white British players.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We found that you are 13 times more likely to become a professional cricketer if you attended a private school. If you add ethnicity to the equation, you are 34 times more likely to become a professional cricketer if you are white and privately educated compared with being British South Asian (BSA) and state educated.</p> <p>While the BSA community in England and Wales represents 8 per cent of the total population, they represent 30 per cent of those who play recreational cricket. This number increases to over 50 per cent in major cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester.</p> <p>Therefore, we analysed whether this representation has translated into the professional game. Essentially, we asked what professional clubs' talent spotters and development programmes are doing to capture, include and retain players from these communities? Our findings show that all 18 first-class counties have an over-representation of BSA players on their talent pathways—equating to roughly 20 per cent of players selected on talent pathways (under-10s to under-18s). While lower than the recreational game, we don't believe this equates to a significant racial bias in selection.</p> <p>But—and most importantly—BSA representation in professional cricket drops to just 5 per cent. What's worse, between 2010 and 2020, this number has declined by around 40 per cent, and anecdotal evidence suggests that this decline has been greater from the early 2000s.</p> <p>These findings do highlight significant racial biases in the selection that requires immediate action to redress. Currently, we have several studies under way aimed at identifying the specific causes that led to these results.</p> <p>It's important to note that increases in representation do not equate to the demise of racism in sport. The culture and practices implemented by professional sides must be analysed to ensure that all players feel comfortable and safe, and are provided with an experience designed to maximise their potential. If Azeem Rafiq's case has taught us anything, it's that even senior players (remember, Rafiq was once captain of Yorkshire CCC) are not immune from being the victims of racial harassment or bullying.</p> <p>So, if cricket is to genuinely improve its levels of inclusion and truly become “a game for all” as the England and Wales Cricket Board professes, it must analyse its current practices in the professional game and action programmes designed to make meaningful change.</p> <p>Thomas Brown PhD researcher, Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, Birmingham City University.</p> <p>This article is republished from <i>The Conversation</i> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="">original article</a>.</p> Sun Nov 14 12:02:34 IST 2021 daryll-mitchell-replaces-conway-in-new-zealand-squad-for-india-test-series <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In-form batter Daryl Mitchell has replaced injured Devon Conway in the New Zealand squad for the upcoming two-Test series against India. Conway was ruled out of the India tour and Sunday's ICC T20 World Cup final against Trans-Tasman rivals Australia with a broken hand he sustained in New Zealand's semifinal win over England on Wednesday.</p> <p>New Zealand coach Gary Stead said Conway would return home with the T20 squad after their three-game series in India next week, while Mitchell will stay on for the Tests.</p> <p>“It's a shame for Devon to miss out on the first series of the new World Test Championship cycle, but it also offers up an opportunity for someone else,” Stead said in a statement issued by New Zealand Cricket.</p> <p>“Daryl's versatility means he can cover a lot of batting positions and he's certainly got plenty of confidence at the moment. He's proven he can perform in Test cricket and I know he's excited to rejoin the Test group,” he added.</p> <p>New Zealand will reach India on Monday for the tour, which begins with three T20 Internationals starting November 17 in Jaipur, followed by Ranchi (November 19) and Kolkata (November 21). The two-Test series starts in Kanpur on November 25 with the second Test scheduled to be hosted by Mumbai from December 3.</p> Sun Nov 14 10:37:01 IST 2021 preview-australia-new-zealand-lock-horns-for-their-maiden-t20-wc-title <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The feistiness of Australia will clash with the tactical shrewdness of a perennially understated New Zealand when the Trans-Tasman rivals battle for their maiden T20 World Cup trophy in Dubai on Sunday.</p> <p>Considering how both Australia and New Zealand won their respective semifinals against fancied opponents, one can expect another dramatic finish at the "Ring of Fire".</p> <p>Australia, who have won a record five World Cup titles in 50-over cricket, have surprisingly not got their hands on the T20 showpiece.</p> <p>New Zealand, on the other hand, have always been consistent in ICC events but now seem to have the self-belief of going all way under Kane Williamson's astute leadership.</p> <p>It will be their first T20 World Cup final and if they do end up winning it, it will be a remarkable achievement for a country of five million which keeps churning out world-class players.</p> <p>Australia hold the upper hand over the reigning world Test champions in overall T20 meetings but the Black Caps won their only meeting in the World Cup back in the 2016 edition in India.</p> <p>Their last meeting in a World Cup final, in the 50-over format in 2015, was bossed by the Aussies, who have not won an ICC event since then.</p> <p>Fans of both the teams will have to work against their body clock to watch the game from their TV sets with the final starting well past midnight in both countries.</p> <p>New Zealand, who have been the best bowling side of the group stage, showed their batting class in the semifinals against pre-tournament favourites.</p> <p>Martin Guptill enjoys a good record against Australia in T20s and his opening partner Daryl Mitchell goes into the final having played the innings of his life.</p> <p>Skipper Kane Williamson is due for a big score and expect him to rise to the occasion on Sunday.</p> <p>Jimmy Neesham proved his value in the middle-order against England but New Zealand will miss the services of Devon Conway who punched his bat in frustration after getting dismissed in the semifinal and ended up breaking his right hand. Tim Seifert is set to replace him.</p> <p>The seasoned pace duo of Tim Southee and Trent Boult will be expected to keep Australian openers Aaron Finch and David Warner quiet in the powerplay.</p> <p>Adam Milne has also done a decent job as the third pacer and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi has been impressive in the middle overs.</p> <p>Finch, who could do little with fast inswingers of Shaheen Shah Afridi the other night, will be looking to add to his 251 runs against New Zealand, the most by an Aussie batter against the Kiwis.</p> <p>In his last two innings, Warner has shown class is permanent and form is temporary and trust him to fire in the all-important final. More is expected from Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith who are yet to make a big impact in the tournament.</p> <p>Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade pulling off a remarkable chase against Pakistan makes the Australians better prepared for another close finish.</p> <p>Leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who was taken 12 wickets at 10.91 average in the tournament, will be expected to deliver in the middle overs once again while Maxwell can also chip in with his off-spin.</p> <p>The envious pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will be playing their first T20 against New Zealand. Hazlewood had an off night against Pakistan and will be itching to bounce back.</p> <p>Teams (from):</p> <p>Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Adam Zampa</p> <p>New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Adam Milne, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.</p> <p>Match starts at 7.30pm IST.<br> </p> Sat Nov 13 20:51:22 IST 2021 the-curious-case-of-chetan-sharma-led-committees-selections <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The India captaincy, even if it's for one game, couldn't have come at a better time for Ajinkya Rahane as the two Tests against New Zealand could well be his last chance at redemption before the big series in South Africa.</p> <p>However, what has raised eyebrows is how Hanuma Vihari was demoted to India A after being mysteriously dropped for the home series against the Black Caps where he could have got a chance to rake up some good Test scores.</p> <p>With regular captain Virat Kohli resting as a part of workload management programme and Rohit Sharma also needing a break after a long stay inside the bio-bubble, the national selection committee under Chetan Sharma had no option but to appoint regular vice-captain Rahane as the leader for one game.</p> <p>This despite the fact Rahane, in 2021, appeared in all of India's 11 Test matches (2 in Australia, 4 in India and 5 in England including the WTC final vs New Zealand) scoring 372 runs at an average of 19. His last innings of significance was 61 at Lord's in India's Test win.</p> <p>But before and after that has been a saga of failures which has led to questions being asked how selectors came to a conclusion that Vihari, whose last effort for India was a match-saving 23 battling torn hamstring in Sydney, was the one who should be axed.</p> <p>The choice of Jayant Yadav as back-up off-spinner in Test squad, or picking Baba Aparajith over the likes of Mandeep Singh and Sheldon Jackson in India A, could raise pertinent questions as to whether enough respect has been given by this committee when it comes to selecting performers in domestic cricket.</p> <p>Here’s a list of some dubious calls made by Chetan-Sharma led committee. The other members of the panel are Debasish Mohanty, Harvinder Singh, Sunil Joshi and Abey Kuruvilla.</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Hardik Pandya back-injury issue</b></p> <p>Chetan Sharma told media that "Hardik Pandya will bowl full quota of overs" in the IPL leg in UAE. In reality, Pandya didn't bowl a single over during the tournament and later Virat Kohli clarified that at some point they are looking at two overs per match during the World Cup.</p> <p>It is now being learnt that Hardik played IPL with lower back injury (since his back operation in 2019) and wasn't fit to bowl. Chetan and his committee decided to go by skipper Kohli's demand of playing him as specialist batter. The result was lack of sixth bowling option apart from fact that Pandya has lost his power-game against better bowling.</p> <p><b>Selecting five spinners and then dropping one</b></p> <p>The selectors decided to pick five specialist spinners based on erstwhile T20 captain's demands and then when they realised that they have goofed up by believing Pandya's version of his fitness status, the next thing they did was to demote Axar Patel into the reserves and pick Shardul Thakur from reserves into main squad to keep the balance. Their timing was so "immaculate" that Patel looked dejected and out of sorts during the IPL play-offs.</p> <p><b>Hanuma Vihari shunted to India A</b></p> <p>There was every possibility that Hanuma Vihari wouldn't have played the second Test against New Zealand in Mumbai because regular skipper Virat Kohli would have made a comeback. But, of his 12 Tests so far, Vihari has only played one in India and most of his games have been in Australia, West Indies and one in England, back in 2018.</p> <p>The last Test for India was where he batted for three and half hours with torn hamstring and saved the match with an unbeaten 23 off 161 balls.</p> <p>If Rahane with an average of 19 across 11 Tests gets a go, why wasn't Vihari preferred over Shreyas Iyer, who hasn't played red ball cricket of late?</p> <p>The second question is that if Vihari had to be selected for India A, why wasn't it done in first place on the day A squad was announced and Prithvi Shaw was selected in that list? Was it an after-thought since Iyer was picked in Test team or was it pre-decided? Like BCCI's press releases that never gives a proper picture, we won't know.</p> <p><b>Jayant Yadav's back in mix, Gowtham in India A</b></p> <p>Jayant Yadav is a steady off-spinner and capable middle-order batter without being exceptional. He has played four Tests in late 2016 and early 2017 before being plagued by injuries.</p> <p>But a closer look at his first-class record in the preceding years (before COVID-19 robbed one full domestic season), Yadav had played eight first-class games across the earlier two editions of Ranji Trophy.</p> <p>He played 2 games in 2019-20 (last time Ranji Trophy was held) and got 9 wickets with a seven-wicket haul against Jammu and Kashmir. He scored 31 runs.</p> <p>In the 2018-19 season, he had 147 runs and 10 wickets in six games with no five-wicket haul. A season before that (2017-18) he didn't play Ranji Trophy due to injury.</p> <p>So, Ravichandran Ashwin's back-up is a man who has 19 wickets from 8 first-class games with just two wickets per game.</p> <p>Is our off-spin cup board bare? No, we have Krishnappa Gowtham, who recently played ODI in Sri Lanka. He has 54 wickets across 11 games in last two Ranji Trophy seasons (34 in 6 in 2019-20, 20 in 5 in 2018-19).</p> <p>If only the selectors could explain how someone with 19 wickets from 8 games plays for India while the one with 54 wickets from 11 games is in India A set-up.</p> <p><b>Baba Aparajith pips Mandeep Singh, Sheldon Jackson</b></p> <p>If Baba Aparajith keeps a hand in his heart and asks himself if he expected an India A call-up for three first-class (red-ball) games considering his record in Ranji Trophy over the past few seasons, the answer would be….</p> <p>Aparajith, a sensation at U-19 India level, has been one of the dependable performers for Tamil Nadu but the right-hander would himself admit that he is supremely lucky that the likes of Mandeep Singh of Punjab or Sheldon Jackson of Saurashtra are overlooked by selectors year-after-year.</p> <p>Sample this. Aparajith scored 292 runs in 8 games at an average of 29.20 while Mandeep has 696 runs in 8 games at an average of 69.60 in the 2019-20 season. And Sheldon Jackson? Well, he had 809 runs in 10 games.</p> <p>In the 2018-19 season, Sheldon Jackson had 854 runs in 11 games while Mandeep Singh had 602 runs.</p> <p>So, how many Aparajith scored in that season? 379 runs in 8 games at less than 35 per match.</p> <p><b>No second wicketkeeper for A tour</b></p> <p>Indian A team will be leaving for South Africa next week as they play three four-day 'Tests' (first-class games) against Proteas A team between November 23 to December 9. However, for the 17-day trip, the selectors have announced only one wicketkeeper in Railways' Upendra Yadav, who has had couple of good seasons and boasts of first-class batting average close to 50.</p> <p>However, what is baffling is that for a tour in another part of the world, there is no second wicketkeeper in the side. Rishabh Pant will play T20Is and then take rest. Ishan Kishan will also play T20Is and hence can't be selected.</p> <p>Wriddhiman Saha and K.S. Bharath will be on Test duty. Upendra, who is now No 5 in pecking order, is going to South Africa but strangely there isn't sixth choice for an A tour.</p> <p>—PTI</p> Sat Nov 13 18:45:05 IST 2021 now-yoga-pitched-competitive-sport <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Faster, higher, stronger—most elite athletes aspire towards this Olympian goal. But can a way of life that is yoga—a spiritually transformative experience involving the mind, body and soul—succumb to the hard-charging ways of a competitive sport?</p> <p>Udit Sheth, president of the newly formed National Yogasana Sports Federation, certainly believes so. Speaking on the sidelines of the first-ever yogasana world championship in Odisha which concludes today, Sheth singles out the gymnastic potential of "asana"—or the 'physical postures' limb of the eight essential parts of yoga. Can yoga make it to the Olympics? "The short answer is yes. The long answer to that is I have to go to the national games first, then Commonwealth and then the Asian Games. Make sure that more countries participate in it," says Sheth, a fitness expert, nutrition practitioner and sports promoter.</p> <p>"Olympics has a requirement that at least 80 countries have to have a great affinity for a particular sport. And we have to spread this 'sport'. It is actually very possible if we all work towards it as hurriedly and systematically as possible," says Sheth, asking for 8 years to build a "roadmap".</p> <p>Come to think of it, a dream of taking yoga to the Olympics couldn't possibly be begrudged. For 36 years, even poetry was an official Olympic competition category called the "Pentathlon of the Muses" before it was discontinued in 1948. Amateur dancers can also rejoice as breakdancing will now be a medal event for the 2024 Paris Games. But in order to train "yoga athletes", build a culture of "yogasana as sport," purists and practitioners might balk at the Federation's concerted push towards further commodification of this ancient practice, beyond already existing attempts at branding "wellness" and "spirituality services" in the marketplace.</p> <p>"The need of the hour is to package yogasana as sport and create a multibillion dollar brand," reads a press note from NYSF which is recognised by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. It has plans to make yoga as much of a money-spinning vehicle as cricket, besides gaining an "athlete-base across 600 districts," creating "tournaments with prize money at every level", starting "world academies, championships and leagues (like IPL and ISL)", building "great coaches, curriculum and electronic scoring systems," the press note further states.</p> <p>Sheth has a hectic year ahead with formulating a training and competition calendar for NYSF. He wants to showcase NYSF athletes on broadcast television and OTT platforms, set up brand collaborations so the yoga sportspersons are paid well. "Otherwise our athletes will all be poor. They would prefer to go to IPL, or basketball or football where they can make more money. To retain this culture, we have to make sure it is rewarded," says Sheth who sees no harm in commercialising and selling yoga as a sport to a mass audience."If we don't do it, somebody else will. If there's yog without udyog (industry), nothing will work in today's day and age."&nbsp;</p> Sat Nov 13 19:35:47 IST 2021 t20-wc-is-langer-20-the-hero-australia-deserved-and-needed <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Of all the social media platforms in the world, you would expect LinkedIn to be the most drama-free. If you reside anywhere near the bubble of Australian cricket at the moment, you would know that is not true. Ahead of the T20 World Cup, Australian coach Justin Langer put out two cryptic posts that contained the lines: “A wise man once said: Don't give them a taste of your own medicine. If they lied, let their medicine be honesty... BE YOURSELF. YOU ARE UNIQUE and YOU ARE SPECIAL.”</p> <p>Langer has been at the receiving end of some bitter criticism, including from some senior players, about his coaching style; some of the complaints were that he was “grumpy”, “intense” and “micro-manages” too much. Some of the players, reportedly, even went behind his back to talk to Cricket Australia officials. The murmurs had been there for a while, but the loss to India in the Gabba Test in January set tongues free. And Langer got a licking.</p> <p>What was worse was the form Australia was taking into the T20 World Cup in the UAE. In the past one year, they have won only 10 of 14 T20Is, have lost 1-4 to both West Indies and Bangladesh, and have scored their lowest total in the format—62.</p> <p>Compared to their show in the ODI format—Australia have won five World Cups—their record in the T20 World Cup has been suboptimal. They have never won the tournament and, before Thursday, had reached the final only once.</p> <p>So, how did this Australian team reach the final to meet their neighbours New Zealand? Well, there was an IPL in between their last series and the World Cup, and some of the Australians, like Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood, had a decent second leg of the season.</p> <p>Also, the team that lost in Bangladesh and the West Indies did not have the likes of Maxwell, David Warner, Pat Cummins and Steve Smith.</p> <p>“We had a lot of great faith in the squad, a lot of great faith in the preparation we had,” said Langer in a recent news conference. “The tours to the West Indies and Bangladesh... was brilliant for the depth of our squad and for Australian cricket.”</p> <p>What also has changed is apparently Langer’s approach. He had meetings with senior players and the two captains in late August, after the Bangladesh series, and said he “will become a better coach”.</p> <p>“It’s been very chilled,” Australian batter Steve Smith told The Grade Cricketer podcast in the early days of the World Cup. “[Langer’s] taken a bit of a backseat and just let the guys go out and do their thing…. The other coaches have been able to come in and do what they wanted to do. It’s been enjoyable… and everyone is really clear in their roles.”</p> <p>All-rounder Marcus Stoinis told the same podcast: “There’s a bit more sharing of the responsibility, I guess… the mood in the camp is really good, everyone is having a lot of fun. And we’ve probably gotten rid of a bit of the [earlier] structure.”</p> <p>So, perhaps Langer’s flexibility, coupled with a relaxed atmosphere, has helped this Australian side. As did the toss, as is the narrative of this tournament. The team has won all the matches Aaron Finch has won the toss in. The other teams have had the same fortune.</p> <p>Luck of the coin aside, a trophy for Australia would help deflect from the Langer debate for a bit, and could paper over some cracks in the country’s white-ball game. Former captain Ricky Ponting, for instance, has questioned the depth in Australian cricket at the moment and the possible lack of knowhow in unfamiliar conditions, like in Bangladesh.</p> <p>At the moment, though, it is all about the final, and lifting another ICC title.</p> <p>Langer is contracted till mid-2022, and he has been vocal about wanting an extension. While a dominant win in the upcoming Ashes could go a long way in Langer signing the dotted line again, a World Cup victory would only bolster his chances.</p> <p>If not, there's always LinkedIn.</p> Sat Nov 13 21:38:15 IST 2021 xavis-first-signing-why-did-barcelona-bring-back-38-year-old-dani-alves <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Brazilian right-back Dani Alves has rejoined Barcelona after leaving the club five years ago. The surprise return of the 38-year-old is the first of many signings expected under new head coach Xavi Hernandez.<br> </p> <p>The club announced his return last night as he joins the club for the rest of the season. He will join the squad after the ongoing international break but will be eligible to play only in January, when the transfer market opens.</p> <p>After the announcement, Alves posted a picture of him kissing the club logo at the ground, with the caption: “I knew within my heart and within my soul that this day would come…. See you soon with the same desire to help rebuild the best club in the world!”</p> <p>Since his departure in 2016, Alves played for Juventus, Paris St Germain and Sao Paolo, before being released by the Brazilian club this year. He was without a club until Barcelona roped him in.</p> <p>Alves won 23 trophies with Barcelona—including six league titles and three Champions League trophies—since he joined them from Sevilla in 2008. He is now reunited with his former captain Xavi, who was appointed head coach of the club last week.</p> <p>Xavi is acting on a blueprint to revamp the team’s functioning and style of play in a bid to lift the club from the current slump left behind by former coach Ronald Koeman.</p> <p>There are already reports of Xavi formulating strict rules for his players to follow, including changes to their lifestyle, diets, training regimes and punctuality.</p> <p>The signing of Alves, though a surprise, is expected to help Xavi get control of the dressing room and instil his values at the club with the help of a senior presence like Alves.</p> <p>At 38, Alves is no longer the bombing full-back he used to be. But the move helps him as he is reportedly keen on making it to Brazil’s 2022 World Cup squad, and is using this move to show he is still relevant.</p> <p>The player had represented Brazil at the recent Tokyo Olympics too, and had impressed. It would be a tall task for him to usurp Juventus full-back Danilo, who is the first choice for the position.</p> <p>Alves is also reportedly playing for a meagre amount, as the club is going through a financial crisis. He is expected to compete for the right-back position with 22-year-old Oscar Mingueza, who has not been in the best of form this season.</p> <p>Sergino Dest and Sergi Roberto are other players who can play in that position but currently nursing injuries.</p> <p>Xavi is expected to use Alves as a guide for the youngsters and will be banking on his familiarity and experience to inspire change. His mentality, aggression and personality in the dressing room are key traits that Xavi will hope to capitalise on, more than his footballing abilities.</p> <p>There were similiar apprehensions raised when Chelsea signed veteran centre-back Thiago Silva in 2020. But the player showed his leadership skills as helped Chelsea win the Champions League this year.</p> <p>Barcelona’s first match with Xavi in the dugout will be the derby game against Espanyol on November 20.</p> Sat Nov 13 16:22:08 IST 2021 angel-di-maria-scores-against-uruguay-as-argentina-close-in-on-world-cup-spot <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Argentina closed in on a direct World Cup spot with a 1-0 win at Uruguay, despite the absence of Lionel Messi for most of the match as he recovers from a left knee injury.<br> <br> Veteran winger Angel di Maria scored the only goal in the seventh minute on Friday with a powerful left-foot shot from the right corner of the penalty box. Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera didn't get close to stopping the ball.<br> <br> Second-place Argentina now has 28 points in 12 matches. The top four teams in South America earn direct entry to the World Cup. The fifth-place team goes into an intercontinental playoff for a spot in Qatar next year.<br> <br> "Winning today was a gigantic step. We deserve this, we have worked for this," Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said.<br> <br> "They needed points, playing here was hard. This Argentina has amazing courage, and when we don't play well we have to win anyway." &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;<br> <br> Argentina was less dominant in Montevideo in comparison with recent qualifying matches. Messi only came on in the middle of the second half but did not make an impact. The absence of defensive midfielder Leandro Paredes, who has a hip injury, also affected the Copa America champions.<br> <br> Uruguay's Luis Suarez hit the post after Argentina's goal and his team had the better opportunities in the second half, but it largely missed the target.<br> <br> A number of Uruguay players missed the match due to injuries, including defenders Sebastien Caceres, Sebastian Coates and Matas Via, midfielders Federico Valverde, Nicols de la Cruz and Giorgian de Arrascaeta, and forwards Edinson Cavani, Darwin Nez and Maximiliano Gomez.<br> <br> This week's round made Brazil, with 34 points, the first South American team to qualify for Qatar. Ecuador remains third with 20 points. Chile, Colombia and Uruguay follow with 16 points, two ahead of Peru. Paraguay and Bolivia have 12 points and Venezuela has seven.<br> <br> Argentina's next match is against Brazil when they meet in San Juan, Argentina, on Tuesday. Their match in September was suspended after seven minutes of play because of concerns from authorities over breaches of COVID-19 protocols. FIFA has not yet decided whether it will be replayed.<br> Sat Nov 13 11:47:14 IST 2021 kohli-might-give-up-captaincy-in-other-formats-to-focus-on-batting-shastri <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Former India head coach Ravi Shastri says Virat Kohli might give up captaincy in other formats after doing so in the T20 version to deal with the intense pressure associated with the job, especially in COVID times<br> </p> <p>Shastri's tenure with the Indian team ended with an early exit from T20 World Cup.</p> <p>Kohli, who has taken rest for the T20 series and one Test against New Zealand to recover bubble fatigue in COVID times, has relinquished captaincy in the shortest format after the showpiece event.</p> <p>Speaking to <i>India Today</i>, Shastri was asked about Kohli giving up captaincy in other formats to manage his workload better.</p> <p>"In red-ball cricket, India have been number one for the last five years under his captaincy. Unless, he wants to give it up or he is mentally fatigued where he says he wants to focus on my batting which can happen in the near future.</p> <p>"It won't happen immediately but it can happen. The same might happen with white-ball cricket, he might say he had enough and he focuses on Test captaincy. It is his mind and body that will make that decision. He won't be the first.</p> <p>"A lot of successful players have given up captaincy to focus on their batting for their side."</p> <p>Shastri said Kohli remains the fittest cricketer in the team by far.</p> <p>"He is hungry for sure, fitter than anybody in the team. No doubt about that. When you are physically that fit, your longevity only increases. On the captaincy part of it, it will be his decision but I see if anything he might say no to white-ball cricket but red ball, he should carry on because he has been the best ambassador for the test cricket. That will make him carry on," said Shastri.</p> <p>Shastri also foresees many players in the team, including Kohli taking long breaks to recover from bubble fatigue.</p> <p>He also spoke on the relevance of split captaincy in COVID times.</p> <p>"Especially, in these times it will reduce the pressure on the individual. A lot of players will take breaks. I foresee lot of plays wanting breaks and rightly so. You need to switch off from the game from time to time."</p> <p>Shastri reiterated that playing World Cup right after IPL was not ideal for the team but didn't want to blame BCCI as the re-scheduling happened because of COVID-19.</p> <p>"I won't say that but because IPL was cancelled in April, they had no choice. But I don't think that will happen in the future. Kapil is right about the scheduling part because it will take its toll," he said when asked to comment on Kapil Dev's statement on players prioritising IPL over country.</p> <p>"It is not just the BCCI, every board has to be careful on scheduling. Don't forget, we play more cricket than any other team in the world, if you add the IPL."</p> <p>New Zealand and Australia face in the final on Sunday.</p> <p>"The teams that are playing in the final on Sunday, they have hardly played in the last 6 months and you can see the difference. They have played enough to keep themselves sharp but they have got enough round of rest, at times forced as well," Shastri said.<br> </p> Sat Nov 13 11:28:16 IST 2021