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IPL 2019 | Captain Smith Brushes Aside Rustine…

There was intent in everything Rajasthan Royals did on Saturday (April 20).

It began with changing their captain from Ajinkya Rahane to Steve Smith a couple of hours before their must-win match against Mumbai Indians. Irrespective of whether the decision was right or wrong – especially considering Smith will not be available for the entire tournament – there was no questioning the intent. Royals were going nowhere under Rahane, with just two wins from eight matches.

Smith, on the other hand, had 16 wins from 24 matches as IPL captain. Even if Smith could inspire his side for a few games before flying to Australia, he would have done his job.

Smith did just that, leading from the front with the bat, staying unbeaten on 59 off 48 to guide Royals in a tricky chase of 162 on a turning track.

Smith came into the game with a total of 186 runs from seven matches, with a highest of an unbeaten 73 and a strike rate of 108. There was ‘rusty’ written all over his batting; he struggled for any sort of flow. It didn’t help that he batted at No. 4 in a couple of matches, and was even left out of the side for the last game against Kings XI Punjab. The injured elbow was hurting him – Smith, who already isn’t known as a power-hitter, couldn’t find his timing. Why, he couldn’t even throw over-arm, thus forcing him to field inside the ring.

The fielding position didn’t change against Mumbai, but the timing for sure did.

Smith walked in to bat, ironically replacing Rahane in the middle, with Royals already in good flow at 39 in 3.4 overs. Sanju Samson was giving them a quick start at the other end, and Smith had to ensure they kept the momentum. It was crucial given they had no Jos Buttler.

It took only four balls to see Smith’s intent. Smith got going slashing Lasith Malinga for two fours in the sixth over, piercing the gap between backward point and third man to perfection. It took Royals to 60 for 1 at the end of Power Play – a much needed quick start given batting would get tougher as the game went on.

It didn’t take too long to see why Royals had no option but to get a quick start in the Power Play. Rahul Chahar got Samson and Ben Stokes in the eighth over, leaving Royals 77 for 3.

Smith had already raced to 25 off 15 at that point, but had to re-assess the situation. With Stokes gone, Smith was the only experienced batsman left. The names to follow were 17-year-old Riyan Parag, Stuart Binny playing just his second match, followed by bowling all-rounders Jofra Archer and Shreyas Gopal.

Smith rose to the situation, along with young Parag. The duo scored only one boundary between overs 9.1 and 13.3; Smith was slowing down, while Parag scored 17 off his first 16 balls.

The nature of the track and the quality of death bowlers they possessed meant Mumbai would have felt they were in the game, but Parag took over the role of aggressor while Smith looked to bat through. The gear-shift happened when Parag hit Hardik Pandya for a couple of boundaries in the 14th over, following it up with a six off Chahar and a four off Malinga in the next two overs.

Parag raced to 41 off 27, and Royals needed just 25 off 24. Teams have lost from such positions this season, and Royals too faced some nervy moments when Parag was run out and Ashton Turner fell for a first-ball duck.

However, they had captain Smith to guide them home.

IPL 2019 | CSK Take on RCB with One Eye on Pla…

Chennai Super Kings will look to bounce back from their loss to the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the previous game and all but seal a play-off spot when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in an Indian Premier League game at Bengaluru on Sunday (April 21).

Defending champions CSK will reach 16 points with a win at the M Chinnaswamy, a total that will likely guarantee them a place in the top 4.

MS Dhoni missed their previous game with a stiff back but will likely be fit before the next game.

These two teams played the tournament opener in Chennai and have had contrasting campaigns since. CSK are currently atop the points table whereas RCB’s play-off hopes are hanging by a thread.

RCB did beat KKR at Kolkata on Friday night when they defended 213 despite Andre Russell and Nitish Rana taking the game to the final over.

It was only their second win in nine games so far but it kept their play-off chances alive.

With AB de Villiers not playing on Friday, skipper Virat Kohli did the bulk of the heavy lifting and even scored his first century of the season.

With AB expected to be back for the next game, RCB will look to notch up their first home win of the season.

The bowling remains a concern for RCB as was evident at the Eden Gardens where Russell and Rana almost pulled off the impossible after KKR needed 113 off the last six overs.

The hosts just fell short by 10 runs as Moeen Ali saved the day for RCB with both bat and ball, having defended 24 in the final over.

On the other hand, CSK will fancy their chances of beating RCB again. Their team continues to operate well and they will start the game as favourites.


The last game was one to forget for RCB fans. RCB were bundled out for 70 on a slow, turning Chepauk wicket and CSK chased down the total with 2.2 overs to spare and 7 wickets in hand.


Virat Kohli: The RCB skipper was at his fiery best both with bat and on the field during the previous game. RCB’s fortunes depend heavily on Kohli so another good display from him could see them pick up 2 wins on the trot.

Imran Tahir: The leg-spinner has been in fine form this season and has formed quite an understanding with Dhoni. He excelled in batter-friendly conditions at the Eden Gardens and could easily do the same at the Chinnaswamy.


CSK: Dwayne Bravo was ruled out with a grade one hamstring tear for two weeks but is likely to have recovered by now, something that will help the side in both the batting and bowling department although it remains to be seen if he plays. Dhoni also missed the last game but will most likely feature in the XI again.

RCB: De Villiers sat out the game against KKR but is likely to be fit for this match, meaning Heinrich Klaasen could drop out to accommodate his compatriot in the playing XI.


CSK: MS Dhoni (C & WK), Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Kedhar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur.

RCB: Virat Kohli ©, Parthiv Patel (WK), AB De Villiers, Akshdeep Nath, Moeen Ali, Marcus Stoinus, Pawan Negi, Dale Steyn, Mohammad Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini.


RCB: Virat Kohli ©, Parthiv Patel, AB de Villiers, Colin de Grandhomme, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Moeen Ali, Shimron Hetmyer, Dale Steyn, Shivam Dube, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Devdutt Padikkal, Himmat Singh, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Heinrich Klaasen, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar, Akshdeep Nath, Prayas Ray Barman, Kulwant Khejroliya, Tim Southee.

CSK: MS Dhoni (C & WK), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan (wk), Scott Kuggeleijn.

IPL 2019 | Wounded Kolkata Look to Bounce Back…

Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders are in the same boat now. Stuck in the middle of the table with eight points each, both the sides need to get back to winning ways if they hope to progress to the IPL-12 playoffs.

After a high-scoring loss on Friday night, KKR will be licking their wounds and will be ruing on the lost opportunity against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. A little bit of initiative by the middle-order batsman like Shubman Gill and Robin Uthappa might have tilted the scales in the favour of KKR with Andre Russell biding his time in the dug-out.

The Sunrisers will not be an easy prospect at home with their openers David Warner and Jonny Bairstow firing on all cylinders. Like KKR, the achilles heel of SRH is their middle-order. Batsmen like Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan have struggled to get going so far in this tournament and as a result the Hyderabad franchise had succumbed to three successive losses this season before defeating table-toppers Chennai Super Kings in their last match.

But while KKR can bank on Russell to bail them out coming in down the order, SRH have no such luxury. They will have to bank on Warner and Bairstow again to fire in tandem and hope that they can give a big enough total for the likes of Rashid Khan & Co. to defend.

The Knight Riders will be worried about the form of their strike bowler Kuldeep Yadav with the chinaman bowler only claiming four wickets in nine games so far. Matt Kelly, who replaced injured Anrich Nortje in the Kolkata side, is one option who can be tested with the Australian known for his speciality with accurate yorkers.

Players to watch out for

Jonny Bairstow: The English opener has been a perfect foil to Warner at the top of the order, in fact, even outdoing the Australian on some of the occasions. Bairstow has 365 runs in eight games this season with a century and a fifty and will be looking the make the most of the limited opportunities left in IPL-12 before he departs back for England on April 23.

Andre Russell: He has been an absolute powerhouse throughout the season. The leading run-scorer for KKR with 377 runs in nine games and a strike-rate of 220.46 makes him a nightmare for any attack. Russell scored his season-best 65 against RCB on Friday night in a lost cause and will be itching to make up for it in their next game.

Team News/ Availability

SRH: Skipper Kane Williamson’s selection is complicating the matter for them as it’s keeping out additional spinner like Mohammad Nabi or Shakib al Hasan out of the side — both capable batsmen as well. Depending on the surface, the home side will have to take a call on playing their skipper Williamson or not.

KKR: The visitors might look to give Australian death-over specialist Matt Kelly a go to replace Englishman Harry Gurney, who proved quite costly against RCB.

Probable XI

KKR: Dinesh Karthik (capt), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna and Harry Gurney/Matt Kelly

SRH: Kane Williamson (capt), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Hooda, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, David Warner, Rashid Khan, Jonny Bairstow and Vijay Shankar

Teams (from)

Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (capt), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, Matt Kelly, KC Cariappa and Yarra Prithviraj.

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (capt), Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey, T Natarajan, Ricky Bhui, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Shreevats Goswami, Khaleel Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, Billy Stanlake, David Warner, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Shakib Al Hasan, Jonny Bairstow, Wriddhiman Saha, Martin Guptill, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem.​

Snapshot: Royals Do the Double on Mumbai

Rajasthan Royals may not have won many games in IPL 2019 but they continued their good run over Mumbai Indians beating them for the fourth game in a row since their readmission in the IPL.

IPL 2019 | New Skipper Smith Leads RR to Cruci…

Steve Smith, who was appointed captain of Rajasthan Royals before the IPL 2019 game against Mumbai Indians, led his side to victory at Jaipur on Saturday (April 20) and kept their slim chances of making the play-offs alive.

Chasing 162 to win, a 70-run partnership between Smith (59*) and Riyan Parag (43) for the fourth wicket laid the foundation for the win as RR eventually got to the target with 5 balls to spare.

The Royals started brightly, with Sanju Samson in particular looking in ominous touch. Boundaries came at ease for Samson but Ajinkya Rahane, who was stripped of the captaincy before the game, continued to struggle.

He did eventually get a couple of balls away to the fence but was the first to depart in the 4th over, going for an inside out shot off Rahul Chahar but only finding Suryakumar Yadav in the 30-yard circle.

Out came new captain Smith, who also looked to take on the bowlers early. However, the approach changed drastically when RR lost both Samson (35) and Ben Stokes (0) in the 8th over, with Chahar the man doing the damage once again.

Smith was then joined in the middle by Parag, who took on MI’s bowlers with ease even as Smith looked to rotate the strike more frequently.

Parag got two boundaries early in his innings but things kicked into the next gear when he smashed Hardik Pandya for successive boundaries in the 14th over.

The 50-run partnership soon came up, as did Smith’s half-century. It didn’t help that Mumbai looked to restrict the flow of runs when wickets were the need of the hour.

The wicket finally came in the 18th over when Ben Cutting managed to run Parag out after the batsmen went for a second that was never really on.

Yet it mattered little to Smith, who smashed Hardik for a four before ending the over with a double to ease the nerves.

And although Jasprit Bumrah got rid of Ashton Turner on the first ball of the next over, MI had left it till too late as Stuart Binny and Smith comfortably got the remaining runs, the former finishing the game with a boundary on the first ball of the final over.

Earlier, MI could only put up a total of 161-5 in their quota of 20 overs after being put in to bat by the home team.

Quinton de Kock came good with the bat once again but a lack of more big knocks from the rest of the batsmen saw Mumbai unable to post a more challenging total despite being in a strong position to do so.

Rohit Sharma’s poor form continued as he was dismissed by Shreyas Gopal in the third over after giving the leggie a simple catch.

De Kock ensured the scoreboard kept ticking but Suryakumar Yadav took a more measured approach to begin with, looking for ones and twos while the South African looked for boundaries.

However, Yadav’s patient knock did not translate into a big one. An attempt to slog Stuart Binny resulted in Dhawal Kulkarni taking a simple catch in the deep.

Gopal then got the big wicket of De Kock, leaving Mumbai with two dangerous but new batsmen at the crease in Hardik Pandya and Keiron Pollard.

The two have wreaked havoc down the order before. Both got starts again but Pandya (13) was trapped by Archer whereas Pollard (10) was castled by Unadkat.

Cutting did hit a four and a six as the innings was coming to a close but it wasn’t enough in the end. ​

IPL 2019 | ‘Upset Result’ – Smith’s Match-Winn…

Steve Smith led from the front after being announced captain of the Rajasthan Royals. In a chase of 162, he anchored the chase for them and got good support from Riyan Parag to see them through.

Earlier on a slow surface, despite losing Rohit Sharma early, Mumbai got a stable base to go hard in the last ten overs thanks to a half-century from Quinton de Kock.

Rajasthan though kept thing quiet and got rid of both Yadav and de Kock in time. Hardik Pandya was dropped twice by Jofra Archer and he made them pay with a quick cameo again.

In reply, Sanju Samson got the home side off to a flying start, scoring 60/1 in the Powerplay before Mumbai came back with Rahul Chahar taking three wickets.

Steve Smith though combined with Riyan Parag to see their side through to a crucial win.

IPL 2019 | Impressive Gopal Continues to Fly U…

Shreyas Gopal has been an underrated player in the IPL despite consistent performances over four years in the league. Even though he has underlined his value with telling performances in 2018 and this season, Gopal has rarely been seen in the same light as some of the other legspinners.

Though he took six wickets in his debut year in IPL 2014 for Mumbai Indians in the four matches he played, his big moment came last year for Rajasthan Royals when he took 11 wickets in as many matches while going at an economy of 7.6.

The average from the start of 2018 is a pretty impressive 21.04 and he has 21 wickets in this time frame in 20 matches.

After dismissing AB de Villiers last year against Royal Challengers Bangalore in an impressive showing, he took 3/12 against the same side this year dismissing both de Villiers and Kohli.

Gopal thrives on his variations and mostly sticks to his googlies against the left-handers. Against Mumbai Indians on Saturday, he had Rohit Sharma caught and bowled with the googly. Knowing Rohit had an evident weakness against the wrong ‘un which was exposed last time around by several teams, Gopal used it early in his spell and was rewarded.

He dismissed Rohit’s partner later in the innings with another googly to cap off another wonderful performance. This season, his economy rate has been pretty good, going at just 6.43 an over but the wickets have also come by.

In five of the nine matches, he went at an economy below 7 and in four matches he took more than 2 wickets in a game. What is a tad disappointing, though, is that the wickets have come in clusters. In five matches this season, he has gone wicketless.

Even then, Gopal remains the third most successful wrist spinner this season after Imran Tahir and Yuzvendra Chahal. He is the second highest wicket-taker for Rajasthan Royals with 10 wickets (Jofra Archer with 11 is first). With his impressive performances, Gopal has earned attention this season and with the pitches expected to slow down further this season, the legspinner might want to ensure those wicketless games are few and far between.

IPL 2019 | CSK Take Up the ‘Local Ninja Challe…

Chennai Super Kings have been in fine form throughout the IPL 2019 thus far and members of the Yellow Army are now taking up a new sport: Silambam, a martial art that originated in Tamil Nadu.

In a video posted on CSK’s official Instagram page, different players try their hand at the martial art in which the weapon of choice is a bamboo staff.

The players are handed the staff and take turns at swinging it around, with varying degrees of success. Some players – Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja among them – catch on quite easily. Others? Not so much.

Nevertheless, their struggles lead to some pretty hilarious moments with Ambati Rayudu’s inability to swing the stick a particular highlight.

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Catch the Lions nailing the Silambam like Super Local Bosses! #SuperLocalChallenge #WhistlePodu #Yellove

A post shared by Chennai Super Kings (@chennaiipl) on Apr 20, 2019 at 12:18am PDT

Defending champions CSK have only lost two games so far this season and are in a good position to seal their spot in the playoffs with a win over RCB on Sunday (April 21).

IPL 2019 | Ganguly Deposes Before Ethics Offic…

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly, currently the advisor for IPL franchise Delhi Capitals, gave his deposition before BCCI Ombudsman Justice (Retd) DK Jain, who was recently also appointed the Ethics Officer by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). The deposition was held at a city hotel in Delhi on Saturday and lasted more than three and a half hours beginning at 11am.

Jain, who passed his judgement on Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul on Friday, has taken this up as his first matter as the Ethics Officer. Three Bengal-based cricket fans — Bhaswati Shantua, Abhijeet Mukherjee and Ranjit Seal — had alleged that Ganguly’s position as Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president is in direct conflict with his role as an advisor of the Capitals.

Senior Supreme Court advocate Biswanath Chatterjee appeared on behalf on complainants Bhaswati Shantua and Abhijeet Mukherjee while Seal appeared in person in New Delhi. Apart from them, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri was also present through the duration of the deposition.

“I have heard both the parties as well as the BCCI and will soon give my order. Since hearing is over as per principles of natural justice, both parties can give their written submissions on what they have argued today in front of me. After going through these written submissions I’ll announce the final order is pronounced,” Justice Jain said after the meeting on Satuday.

With more than half of IPL 12 now over, Jain has not barred Ganguly from performing any role as yet nor has he been barred from sitting in the IPL dug-out.

“Of course, there is a timeline. I can’t tell you what happened as the matter is sub-judice. But the order will come out soon,” Jain said when asked if there was a deadline for announcing his decision.

The former India and Bengal captain will resume his role as DC advisor with the team set to host Kings XI Punjab at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Saturday evening.

Ganguly also didn’t reveal much about what transpired in the meeting, saying that the ‘meeting went off well’ before leaving the premises.

Earlier, Johri in his letter to the Ethics Officer quoted Rule 38(4) of the BCCI Constitution that states that ‘one individual cannot occupy the posts of Office Bearer of a Member and be in governance, management or employment of a Franchisee at a single point of time.’

“After examining the role and responsibilities of Mr. Ganguly as President of the CAB in conjunction with his role as advisor to the Delhi Capitals franchisee, a decision in this regard may be taken. Similarly, Mr. Ganguly’s role as a member of the CAC in addition to being an advisor to the Delhi Capitals franchisee may be examined to see whether the conflict of interest is tractable or intractable,” the BCCI CEO had written.

The duration of deposition, which was more than double of those of Pandya and Rahul in Mumbai earlier this month, shows that the Ethics Officer is not taking this matter lightly. Jain knows that his decision in the matter will set a precedent that the BCCI will have to follow, especially when it comes to matter of ‘conflict of interest’. It remains to be seen which way Justice Jain will head.​

IPL 2019 | Smith Replaces Rahane as Royals Cap…

Ajinkya Rahane has been removed from his position as captain of the Rajasthan Royals hours before their crucial game against the Mumbai Indians in Jaipur. The Royals will now be led by Australian Steve Smith.

Rajasthan currently sit at seventh spot in the IPL table with just four points from eight games, and the franchise believes that a “fresh approach” is needed.

“Ajinkya Rahane did a fantastic job in leading the team to the playoffs last year, however, the franchisee now thinks a fresh approach is needed to bring their 2019 campaign back on track,” a statement from Rajasthan Royals stated.

“Steve has always been part of the leadership team within RR and Rahane will continue to be a key voice in the side, therefore the Royals see this as a small restructuring process to secure the results required to move up the table.

Meanwhile Zubin Bharucha, Head of Cricket for Rajasthan Royals, said, ‘Ajinkya is and will always be a true Royal. He led the team to the play offs in 2018 in a very challenging scenario and that will go down as one of the great comebacks of the IPL. He remains a key part of our side and leadership team and will extend support wherever required to Steve.”

“Steve is one of the most innovative and successful captains in the world, in all formats of the game. We are confident he can lead the Royals to success,” he added.

Smith, who has played seven games this season, was left out of the last match for compatriot Ashton Turner against Kings XI Punjab which they lost.

In his seven games so far, Smith has managed to score a total of 186 runs with a highest of an unbeaten 73 and a strike rate of 108. On the other hand Rahane has scored 201 runs in eight games with a strike rate of 133. Both players have scored only one half-century in the tournament so far.