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Hardik Pandya, K L Rahul out from 1st ODI amid recommendation of suspension

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Koffe with Karan

Sydney | India will not be fielding Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul in Saturday’s ODI series-opener against Australia after Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Diana Edulji recommended a suspension pending inquiry for their controversial comments on women during a TV show.

A BCCI source told PTI that Rahul was not considered for selection while Pandya will not feature at least in the game on Saturday. A final decision on the matter is still awaited.

“The team management has told Pandya that he is not playing tomorrow as they are yet to get a final directive. Rahul, in any case, wasn’t in contention for a first XI berth,” said a source close to the development.

“The team management is waiting for an official communication on whether there is a provisional suspension and if they will be sent back,” he added.

On Thursday, COA chief Vinod Rai recommended a two-match ban for Pandya and Rahul but colleague Edulji referred the matter to BCCI’s legal team.

On Friday, Edulji called for a suspension of the two players pending an inquiry after the BCCI legal team refused to declare their outrage-evoking comments on women a violation of the code of conduct.

In the pre-match media interaction, India captain Virat Kohli condemned the comments made by Pandya and Rahul, calling them “inappropriate”.

“From the Indian cricket team point of view, any inappropriate comments that are made in that scenario are something that we definitely don’t support…and that has been communicated (to the two players),” said Kohli.

“…We definitely don’t align with those views and those are purely individual views. The two concerned players (have) felt what has gone wrong and they have understood the magnitude of what’s happened.”

However, the skipper insisted that the dressing room morale won’t be affected by the controversy after the historic high of a maiden Test series triumph in Australia.

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Would be sitting at home if I think like people from outside, says Kohli after Gambhir jibe

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Chennai | Virat Kohli on Friday said he would be “sitting at home if he thinks like people from outside”, responding, in his trademark combative style, to Gautam Gambhir’s recent jibe at him, but without taking the former opener’s name.

Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014, recently said that in a result-oriented franchise environment, Kohli has been “lucky” to have survived despite Royal Challengers Bangalore never winning the coveted title in his eight years as skipper.

Asked about it, the batting maestro said, “Obviously, you want to win the IPL. I am doing what I am supposed to do. I don’t care whether I am going to be judged on this (not winning IPL) or not. There is no real, sort of, parameters you set. I try to perform wherever I can. I try to win all the possible titles, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

“We have to be practical about why we haven’t won one. That boils down to bad decision making in pressure situations. If I think like people from outside, I can’t even sustain five games. I would be sitting at home,” Kohli said.

According to Gambhir, one can’t say Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the same breath, as India’s current captain has not won the IPL even once in comparison to his predecessor’s three. Gambhir also compared Kohli with his national team deputy Rohit Sharma, who too have three IPL titles to his credit.

“I know people talk about it a lot and they like to grab opportunities to talk about these things. But I have a responsibility here and given a chance, as a captain, I would love to win the IPL for my team.

“We all are motivated to do so. It has not happened and that’s the reality. No excuses for that. Only acceptance of the faults that we made in the past. The fact that we played six semifinals means that we have been a side who are always in contention. If we make better decisions, we can go further than that. That’s how I see things,” Kohli added.

The Indian captain was speaking on the eve of the IPL 12 opener between his team and Chennai Super Kings. To a question if he felt RCB were the underdogs against CSK at home, he said every team that comes here has to be considered so, with the home team being led by Dhoni.

“MS knows exactly what he wants from his team in these conditions. We all have seen that and are aware of it. We are going to be backing our skills and then find ways to come out on top. “It’s very easy to be overawed by the support that CSK are going to get. In the IPL, people can get carried away by the support that a team like CSK gets at home but we have to focus on our basics.”

Kohli also said RCB’s focus this year would be on being consistent and scratching their way to wins. “It again boils down to how much composure you have in crunch situations. If you see all the teams that have won, they have had players who have stood up and done the job.

“In the past, when we have been close to winning the title, we have just expected things to go our way instead of standing up. That is something we want to correct this season. If we look ugly, we look ugly. It doesn’t matter. We don’t want to be a side just playing flamboyant cricket. We want to be a consistent side,” Kohli said.

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IPL Opener: CSK veterans ready to slog out against RCB

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Chennai | They made ‘Dad’s Army’ sound cool last year and defending champions Chennai Super Kings’ battle-hardened veterans are ready to prove that age is just a number when they take on Virat Kohli’s perennial underachievers Royal Challengers Bangalore in Saturday’s opening IPL encounter.

For Virat Kohli, it couldn’t be a bigger statement if his young side could start off with a bang at Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s ‘spiritual home’, a task which will be easier said than done.

CSK’s core team is the oldest in the tournament — 37-year-olds Dhoni and Shane Watson, 35-year-old Dwayne Bravo, 34-year-old Faf du Plessis, 33-year-olds Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav, soon-to-be 32 Suresh Raina, .

Then they have two spinners with truckloads of experience — 39-year-old Imran Tahir and 38-year-old Harbhajan Singh, who have the ability to change the complexion of a game with one-off over.

Even the two out-of-favour India players, leg-spinner Karn Sharma (31) and seamer Mohit Sharma (30) are on the wrong side of 30’s.

However, when it comes to match awareness, the CSK players are second to none.

The most consistent franchise of the Indian Premier League, who have always been in the top four, are a formidable side at home with a slow turner and a vocal crowd complementing the quality.

While CSK is a three-time champion, the Bengaluru franchise is probably the biggest underachiever despite boasting of some of the best names in its squad.

The outcome of Saturday’s game will depend on which team bowls better and holds its nerve as both side have players who can turn a match on its head in a jiffy.

CSK’s Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja will be keen to step up their performances and seal a spot in the Indian World Cup squad. While RCB paceman Umesh Yadav will also look to shine in the IPL and make a case for selection in the England-bound playing XI.

A lot has been said about the workload, especially that of the bowlers, which needs to be monitored. CSK head coach Stephen Fleming said on Wednesday that it was up to the players and as professionals, they would be aware of the requirements.

CSK enjoy an impressive record against RCB, having won 15 matches and lost seven with one no-result. The hosts haven’t lost to its rival since 2014.

While the home team has a well-balanced squad with most of the bases covered, RCB is facing concerns over the availability of some foreign players at certain stages of the tournament.

Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal will again be the key man for RCB as he has been over the past seasons and will need the rest of the bowling attack to step up.

Kohli has always led from the front and his exploits in the IPL are well documented, the RCB skipper will begin yet another campaign aware that his form could prove vital in the success of his side in the gruelling tournament.

Squads(from)

Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain & 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, David Willey, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan (wk).

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel (WK), Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Shivam Dube, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Heinrich Klaasen (WK), Moeen Ali, Colin de Grandhomme, Pawan Negi, Tim Southee, Akshdeep Nath, Milind Kumar, Devdutt Padikkal, Gurkeerat Singh, Prayas Ray Barman, Kulwant Kejroliya, Navdeep Saini, Himmat Singh.

Match starts at 8 pm.

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Dhoni opens up on 2013 IPL fixing scandal, asks what did players do to go through all of that

Anil Rajpurohit

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New Delhi | What mistake did the players make, asked Mahendra Singh Dhoni, opening up on a phase of life made “most difficult and depressing” by the 2013 IPL fixing scandal.

The two-time World Cup winning captain broke his silence in a docudrama aptly titled ‘Roar of the Lion’, which focuses on the scandal that rocked Indian cricket and the ensuing fairy tale comeback by Chennai Super Kings following a two-year suspension for its management’s role in spot-fixing.

“2013 was the most difficult phase in my life, I was never depressed as much as I was then. The closest was 2007 World Cup when we lost in the group stages. But all said and done, 2007 happened because we did not play good cricket.

“But 2013, the angle was completely different. People are talking about match-fixing and spot-fixing. It was the most talked about thing in the country,” Dhoni said in the first episode titled ‘What did we do wrong’? broadcast on Hotstar.

Dhoni, who led the CSK to three IPL titles, said they knew a “harsh punishment” was on the cards.

“We did deserve the punishment but the only thing is the quantum of the punishment. Finally we got to know that CSK will be banned for two years. There was a mixed feeling that time. Because you take a lot of things personally and, as a captain, question what did the team do wrong,” Dhoni stated.

“Yes there was mistake from our side (the franchise) but were the players involved in this? What mistake did we, as players, do to go through all of that?”

Recalling the torrid time when insinuations and allegations flew thick and fast, Dhoni said fixing a match requires the involvement of the majority of players.

“My name also came up in talks of fixing. They started showcasing in the media or social media as if the team was involved, I was involved. Is it possible (in cricket)? Yes it is possible, anyone can do spot-fixing. Umpires can do that, batsmen can, bowlers can… but match-fixing needs the involvement of the majority of the players.”

For Dhoni, who has always preferred to go about his job quietly even when leading the Indian team, his silence may have been misunderstood.

“The problem when people think you are very strong, is that more often than not, nobody comes and asks: how are you doing. It was more of how I dealt with it.

“I did not want to talk about it to others, at the same time it was scratching me. I don’t want anything to affect my cricket. For me cricket is the most important thing.”

In a trailer of the documentary recently, Dhoni had called match-fixing a bigger crime than murder.

“Whatever I am today, whatever I have achieved is because of cricket. So the biggest crime that I can commit personally is not murder. It’s actually match fixing because it doesn’t get restricted to me. If I’m involved in such a thing, it has a bigger impact.

“If people think a match is fixed because the outcome of a match is extraordinary, then people lose their faith in cricket. I don’t think in my life I would deal with something that is tougher than this,” he said.

Dhoni had not commented on the turmoil before this. In July 2015, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were suspended from the cash-rich league for two years for betting activities by their key officials Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra during the 2013 season.

On his silence post the episode, Dhoni said, “What makes it even tougher is that, as the Indian captain you keep going to press conferences. There is a known line that is drawn that that was the IPL and this is the Indian cricket team.

“It’s not easy to keep performing at the top level when these things are on your mind. Ten years down the line, no one is going to remember what was said in a press conference but how the team did.”

While he agreed that then BCCI chief N Srinivasan’s son-in-law Meiyappan was part of the team setup, Dhoni said, in what capacity, is open to debate.

“Initially, when Guru’s name came up, (we knew) he was part of the team, all said and done. But in what capacity, that is debatable. Was he the owner, the team principal, the motivator… what exactly was he?

“I don’t know if anyone from the franchise introduced Guru to us as the owner… we all knew him as the son-in-law.”

The punishment was handed down by a Supreme Court- appointed three-member committee headed by former CJI R M Lodha, which held that the betting activities brought the game of cricket, BCCI and IPL into disrepute.

Lastly, Dhoni called his association with CSK is “like a match made on matrimonial site an arranged marriage”.

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