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Ranbir Kapoor to Host Prelude to IPL Finale

Mumbai: Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor will host a two-hour prelude to the Indian Premier League (IPL) finale. Others joining the celebrations will include Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja.

“Cricket Finals…Party Toh Banti hai” will be telecast on Star Plus. It will see a melange of performances and fun-filled interactions with celebrities. Additionally, actors Ravi Dubey, Gaurav Sareen, Aakriti Sharma and Deshna Dugad will amplify the entertainment quotient of the finale.

It will be followed by the VIVO IPL 2018 grand finale on Star India Network on May 27, a statement issued by the channel said.

Fans have so far been enjoying commentary in six languages – Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Kannada.

In an attempt to reach out to more cricket enthusiasts across India, Star Pravah and Asianet Movies will respectively carry a Marathi and Malayalam broadcast for the first time in IPL history.

The Marathi language broadcast will have Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Swwapnil Joshi joining the celebrations.

Star Gold will also join in with the Hindi broadcast for the grand finale.

“The Dugout” on Star Sports Select will continue to cater to core cricket fans. Giving a predictive and prescriptive analysis will be Dean Jones, Scott Styris, Anil Kumble, Kumar Sangakkara, Darren Sammy, Brett Lee and Mike Hesson.

‘No Harm in Experimenting of Abolishing Toss,’…

Karachi: Former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad has backed the proposal to abolish toss from Test cricket.

While Miandad said such a move would force the home team to prepare better pitches instead of focusing on preparing tracks that suit them, another former captain, Salim Malik said the International Cricket Council should not tinker with the traditions of the game.

“I don’t see any harm in trying out this experiment of abolishing the toss,” Miandad said.

It might ultimately lead to matches particularly Test cricket being played on good standard pitches, he said as the ICC’s cricket committee meets in Mumbai this month to debate on whether the toss should be abolished from the game.

The committee can only make recommendations to the ICC chief executives committee. Since it was disclosed that the cricket committee was considering a move to recommend abolishing the toss from cricket there has been a mixed reaction to the proposal.

Miandad, a veteran of 124 tests and 233 ODIs, said there was no harm in the experiment to get better results.

“Toss has always been an integral part of cricket but times are changing and one needs to try out new things to make the sport more attractive and better,” he said.

He pointed out that in recent years home sides had resorted to preparing sub-standard and one-sided pitches to gain advantage and win matches against touring sides and this didn’t help the game.

“In recent times we have seen Pakistan win in UAE conditions where pitches are low bounced and slow and than go and struggle in Australia or New Zealand. The answer is to ensure they are good quality pitches wherever cricket is played.”

“But Malik, who was banned for life in 2000 for match fixing,” told PTI that the toss made the game more interesting.

“It allows one to judge the wisdom and worth of a captain. Decisions made at the toss eventually shape the result of a match. Why abolish the toss why not make it mandatory to have international curators like elite panel of umpires and referees,” he said.

He felt that the ICC should take it as a challenge to ensure all teams prepared sporting pitches that gave equal help to batsmen, bowlers.

“Doing away with the toss or reducing Test matches to four days is not the answer. One should not tinker with the traditional spirit of cricket,” he felt.

CSK’s Ngidi Was ‘Grinning’ When he Saw Bounce …

New Delhi: Fast bowlers usually have uncharitable words to describe Indian wickets but Lungi Ngidi was full of praise for the Pune surface where he wrecked Kings XI Punjab on Sunday in a stellar display of pace bowling in the batsman-dominated format.

The Chennai Super Kings bowler tormented Punjab batsmen with his pace and movement to return 4-1-10-4 in the five-wicket Indian Premier League (IPL) victory at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

“Having seen (new ball partner Deepak) Chahar bowl the first over, there was a bit of bounce and pace in the wicket. I was grinning there from the boundary,” the South African said after Chennai’s last group match.

Encouraged by the bounce and carry, the 22-year-old steamed in with keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni gathering several deliveries above shoulder height.

“When I got the ball, and bowled my first ball I actually saw that it’s a very quick wicket and it was playing a lot in my favour,” Ngidi later told reporters.

“I tried to pitch it on the fourth stump line, (thinking) whether it was swinging away or swinging back in, let the batsmen deal with that.

"It was a very good wicket for fast bowlers I’d say. It was very exciting to see Indian conditions offer such a fast bowler-friendly wicket.”

Lungi left the Chennai camp and returned home last month after his father passed away but has been a steady performer for the two-time champions since his return.

On a pitch of his liking on Sunday, Ngidi dismissed the dangerous Chris Gayle for a duck in his maiden first over. In his next, he brought one back to breach the gate of KL Rahul, comfortably Punjab’s best batsman this season.

He then returned to dismiss Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin and Andrew Tye in the same over on his way to register his best Twenty20 figures, which also earned him the Man of the Match award.

Bought for five million Indian rupees ($73,448) in the players’ auction, Lungi said his maiden IPL experience had uplifted his mood following the family tragedy.

“It was the last thing I expected,” he said of the January auction.

“I never thought I’d get picked up in the auction. But the way the coaching staff and (captain) MS Dhoni have backed me has been really amazing.

"The experience here has been eye-opening. I have never played in front of such crowds but then again this is the kind of stages where you find out how really good you are.”

Party-pooper Delhi Daredevils, who finished last in the eight-team league, beat defending champions Mumbai Indians on Sunday as Rajasthan Royals grabbed the final playoff slot.

Table-topper Sunrisers Hyderabad will now clash with Chennai in Tuesday’s qualifier with the winner making it to Sunday’s final.

Kolkata Knight Riders will take on Rajasthan in Wednesday’s eliminator. The winner of which will meet Tuesday’s beaten side for a place in the final in Mumbai.

Bangladesh Recall Mosaddek Hossain for T20 Ser…

Dhaka: Bangladesh today recalled batsman Mosaddek Hossain in their 15-man squad for the three-match Twenty20 matches against Afghanistan in India next month.

Mosaddek, who has not played T20 international cricket for more than a year, replaces batsman Imrul Kayes for Bangladesh’s first-ever bilateral series against Afghanistan in the shortest format.

“Mosaddek is a very talented player. He had a bad patch in the middle but we included him after consulting with the coach about his fitness,” said chief selector Minhajul Abedin.

Selectors also had “injury concerns” about Mehedi Hasan and felt Mosaddek’s spin bowling could prove useful.

Pace bowler Taskin Ahmed and wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan, both part of an extended Bangladesh squad in their last T20 engagement in Sri Lanka, have been dropped.

Afghanistan will host Bangladesh for the inaugural series in the Indian city of Dehradun from June 3 to 7.

It is something of a warm-up for Afghanistan as they prepare for their first-ever Test against India in Bangalore from June 14 to 18.

Afghanistan are ranked eighth in Twenty20 internationals, two places ahead of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh squad: Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mahmudullah Riyad (vice-capt), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Ariful Haque, Mehedi Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider, Rubel Hossain and Abu Jayed.

Azhar Ali Makes Fifty in Final Warm-up Ahead o…

Openers Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman both made fifties as they shared a century stand on the first day of Pakistan’s two-day warm-up match against Leicestershire at Grace Road on Saturday.

At stumps, Pakistan were 321 for nine with Azhar having scored 73 and Fakhar 71, the openers sharing a stand of 121 in an innings where Usman Salahuddin made 69.

The match is Pakistan’s last before they face England at Lord’s on Thursday in the first of a two-Test series.

Azhar’s innings was especially encouraging after he twice fell cheaply, for four and two, in Pakistan’s five-wicket win over debutants Ireland in last week’s stand-alone Test at Malahide, Dublin.

The 33-year-old Azhar, whose 63 Tests have yielded 14 centuries, appears inked in to open against England alongside the in-form Imam-ul-Haq, rested from the Leicestershire game.

Fakhar, whose blazing century helped Pakistan beat arch-rivals India in last year’s Champions Trophy one-day final at The Oval, has yet to make his Test debut.

KKR Peaking at the Right Time, Says Dinesh Kar…

Kolkata Knight Riders became the third team to make the Indian Premier League play-offs on a day when Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore bowed out of the Twenty20 tournament.

Australia’s Chris Lynn helped Kolkata outplay table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad by five wickets on Saturday to finish the league stage with eight wins in 14 games.

Lynn’s 43-ball 55 helped two-time champions Kolkata chase down their 173-run target in 19.4 overs at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

“At the end of the day, we strive for a playoff spot,” skipper Dinesh Karthik said after the win.

“It’s good to see we are pulling back games. Touch wood, I’d like to think we’re peaking at the right time. Feels good to be here (in the top four).”

In the first weekend game, Bangalore suffered a 30-run loss – their eighth defeat in 14 games – against Rajasthan Royals, who are still in the race for the final-four.

Chasing 165 for victory, Bangalore were bowled out for 134 despite a gritty 53 from AB de Villiers, who ended the tournament with 480 runs, including six half-centuries.

Kohli, who amassed 530 runs in 14 matches, slammed his team’s middle-order.

“We wanted to strengthen the middle-order which hasn’t happened, it hasn’t been our strength and we need to do that going into the next few seasons,” Kohli said of his side which has not won the IPL since its inception in 2008.

“The responsibility cannot be taken up only by AB all the time. He certainly scored runs, but others need to contribute around him, and didn’t show enough composure,” he added.

Mumbai Indians need a win against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday to edge out the Royals in the playoff race.

The play-offs will begin Tuesday with the first qualifier in Mumbai. The IPL final is on May 27 with four million dollars going to the winner.

Kohli Wants Stronger Middle-order for RCB Afte…

Jaipur: A dejected Virat Kohli vowed to come back with a stronger middle order in the next Indian Premier League (IPL) season after his Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) was shown the door from the ongoing edition with a 30-run loss to Rajasthan Royals here on Saturday.

Bangalore’s 12 points from 14 games wasn’t enough to propel them to the next stage of the league as the Kohli-led side fell like a pack of cards while chasing a modest 165-run target handed by Rajasthan.

At one stage, Bangalore were looking comfortable at 74/1 but later went on to lose their remaining nine wickets for just 59 runs, thanks to Shreyas Gopal, who shattered the visitor’s top and middle order with impressive figures of 4/16.

In the post-match presentation, Kohli emphasised on the need to strengthen the middle order that failed to contribute on most of the occasions this season.

“We wanted to strengthen the middle-order which hasn’t happened, it hasn’t been our strength and we need to do that going into the next few seasons,” Kohli said.

“We need to be smarter with composing our team. The responsibility cannot be taken up only by AB all the time. He certainly scored runs, but others need to contribute around him,” the 29-year-old added.

However, the Bangalore skipper praised some of his players saying: “There were some new players who did well. Umesh bowled extremely well with the new ball, Chahal was great, Siraj and Moeen contributed too, so plenty of positives to take into the next season.”

On the other hand, RR skipper Ajinkya Rahane credited his bowlers for the win which kept them alive in the league.

Despite the win lifting Rajasthan to the fourth spot, Rahane and company will have to wait till the outcome of the remaining three games of the league stage.

“Though RCB had a very good batting line up, credit goes to our bowlers. Under pressure, the two leggies did really well. Getting wickets in the middle overs was never easy,” Rahane said after the match.

“This evening was very special. It was more about focusssing on the things that we could control. Klaasen’s innings was really good and Rahul’s innings at the top was magnificent. It is important to enjoy this win and stay calm,” he concluded.

England Batsman Ballance Taking a Break for Pe…

London: England batsman and Yorkshire captain Gary Ballance is taking a break from cricket for personal reasons, his county said on Friday.

“Captain Gary Ballance is set to miss several Royal London One-Day Cup fixtures after the Club, this week, granted him some time away from the game due to personal reasons,” Yorkshire said.

“We ask that his privacy be respected during this time.”

The 28-year-old, who has 23 test caps for England, missed Yorkshire’s most recent County Championship game against Surrey at the Oval, with Joe Root taking over the captaincy on that occasion.

Steven Patterson was named captain for Friday’s Royal London Cup opener against Durham at Chester-Le-Street.

Ian Botham Backs Controversial 100-ball Cricke…

England great Ian Botham has backed controversial plans for a new city-based 100-ball competition despite widespread criticism from within the game.

The former all-rounder believes England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves is right to press ahead with the “Hundred” concept in the hope that it can match the global appeal of the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash, both played under Twenty20 rules.

But the Durham chairman’s comments are in contrast to those of other current players, including his county’s captain Paul Collingwood, who led England to their World Twenty20 victory in 2010 and believes a bigger effort should be made to exploit the existing competition, the T20 Blast.

Botham believes the new tournament, due to start in 2020, could compete with the other popular franchise leagues.

“The game has to move on,” he said. “I think we’re in danger of diluting the red-ball game too much and going down the one-day road, but that’s what the public wants at the moment and we’re trying to do something different.

"No one’s agreed anything yet regarding the new competition so we’ll have to wait and see how it all falls into place. But we needed a competition in England to compete with the Big Bash and the IPL – everyone else has one and we’ve been slow to pick up on it.”

Botham was speaking at a ceremony to mark the renaming of a pavilion at Durham’s ground in honour of Collingwood.

Collingwood challenged the assertion, made by Graves last week, that young people are not attached to the sport.

“If you took that survey around the northeast it wouldn’t be very accurate,” he said. “But they’ve been out there, they’ve done the surveys and they’re saying it needs to be grown, so you’ve got to take their word for it.”

“If the T20 game was marketed well in England, I think it would bring the crowds in and bring in a new audience,” he added. “But who is to say this ‘Hundred’ competition isn’t going to be bigger and better? We’ll just have to wait and see.”

MS Dhoni Believes Chennai Super Kings Need to …

New Delhi: Despondent after the loss to Delhi Daredevils in their Indian Premier League (IPL) clash here on Friday, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni asserted that his team need to pick up their socks in the knockout stages.

Needing 163 runs for a win, the CSK chase never really took off as they fell short by 34 runs at the Feroz shah Kotla.

“Keep strengthening what your strengths are, at the same time also strengthen your weaknesses. We also want to improve in certain areas,” Dhoni said after the game.

“They need to be mentally ready for this than physically. I think apart from that, we are doing well. If we get our death bowling sorted out, it will be very good. Still have one more game and then into the eliminators (playoffs), so let’s see. (On death bowling worries) We’ll try to manage it, that’s what the reality is,” he added.

Despite the loss, CSK continue to hold on to the second spot on the IPL table with 16 points.

With a spot in the top two already assured, CSK have already qualified for the play-offs.

Admitting that the CSK batsmen should have done better, Dhoni praised the Delhi bowlers for their performance on Friday.

“I think the wicket slightly got more difficult in the second half. I think it was evident, nobody was middling it well in our innings,” he said.

“Wicket kept getting slower and slower. Their bowlers also bowled really well,” he added.