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Optimistic Ajinkya Rahane says Rajasthan can still qualify for play-offs

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Kolkata: Their fate hanging by a thread, Rajasthan Royals captain Ajinkya Rahane believes his side still can qualify for the play-offs even after a bitter six-wicket defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.

After a great start by Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi, Rajasthan were bundled out for 142, which was chased down by KKR in 18 overs on Tuesday night in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata.

Rajasthan are lying fourth in the standings with 12 points from 13 games and will now face a virtual shoot-out on May 19 against a resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore, who are also in contention in a dogfight with three other teams for the two available play-off berths.

“We still have to believe in ourselves. Anything can happen in cricket, it’s a funny game. We have to learn from our mistakes. We were too positive with our batting tonight. But, we have to learn as a team,” Rahane said at the post-match news conference on Tuesday night.

Rahane admitted that they have not batted well this season as they should have posted something around 175-180 yesterday, especially after the magnificent start provided by Buttler and Tripathi.

“After the magnificent start given by Rahul Tripathi and Jos Buttler, we did not string any partnerships. It’s not about any individual. We lost because we did not apply ourselves in the middle and we needed to get a partnership going. When you get a start like that you have to back yourself,” he said.

“We lost because of our batting. Even in the tournament we did not bat that well except for Buttler whose consistency was good to see. So many things the boys can learn from him. We thought 175-180 was a par score on this wicket.”

Their task has become all the more difficult as their English duo of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler played their last match of the season last night. They will head back to their country for a Test series against Pakistan.

But Rahane said Rajasthan have good overseas players to replace the Englishmen.

“Definitely, we will miss Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. I am really happy for Jos. Because, as a player, it’s everyone’s dream to represent their country in the longer format. We have got 3-4 overseas players with us, they are equally good.

“I’m sure the boys, especially the overseas players, will step up in the last league game against RCB,” he said.

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No county action for injured Virat Kholi, fitness test on June 15

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New Delhi: India captain Virat Kohli’s much-hyped participation in English County Championship was today ruled out due to a neck injury, throwing his meticulously planned build-up for the tour of UK into disarray.

Kohli will require a three-week rehabilitation to recover from the injury, the BCCI said.

The 29-year-old will undergo a fitness test on June 15, which will confirm his availability for the initial phase of the UK limited-overs tour starting with the two T20 Internationals against Ireland in last week of June. India will begin the series against England with T20Is in early July.

“Team India Captain Mr. Virat Kohli suffered a neck injury while fielding during Match 51 of the VIVO IPL between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad on 17th May 2018 at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru,” BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary said in a press release.

“Kohli, who was scheduled to play for Surrey CCC in the month of June, has been ruled out from participating. This decision was taken following assessments by the BCCI Medical team, subsequent scans, and a specialist visit,” the release further stated.

The Indian captain will now undergo a period of rehabilitation under the supervision of the BCCI Medical team. He will begin training and subsequently undergo a fitness test at the NCA in Bengaluru from June 15.

“The BCCI Medical Team is confident that Kohli will regain full fitness ahead of India’s upcoming tours to Ireland and England,” Choudhary stated.

The batting mainstay had decided to miss the one-off Test against Afghanistan, starting June 14 in Bengaluru, to appear in county matches.
Kohli had visited a hospital in Mumbai for a check-up yesterday and it was reported that he is suffering from a slip disc injury and will not be playing for Surrey ahead of the UK tour.

However, a top BCCI official, who is privy to Kohli’s county engagements, clarified that it was a case of “neck sprain” and not a “slip disc injury” as reported. But there was no denying Kohli’s tremendous workload during the past one year.

In this phase, he appeared in nine Tests and 29 of the 32 ODIs that the national team played. He also played 9 out of India’s 18 T20 Internationals. In all, he played 47 international matches with only Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya (48 each) playing a match more than him.

Add to it, the 14 IPL matches and his tally goes up to 61 in all.

However, the one question that begs to be answered is why did Kohli not rest himself from a few matches during the IPL?

The BCCI has already put a program in place where the centrally-contracted cricketers’ workload and injury management is monitored through the National Cricket Academy.

The franchise physios and trainers are supposed to give weekly updates to the national team trainers and the ones present at the NCA.

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Cricket world reacts with shock at AB de Villiers’ sudden retirement

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New Delhi: The cricketing world reacted with shock and surprise at AB de Villiers’ sudden decision to quit international cricket on Wednesday, with Sachin Tendulkar leading the tributes.

“Like your on-field game, may you have 360-degree success off the field as well. You will definitely be missed. My best wishes you to always, @ABdeVilliers17!,” Tendulkar tweeted.

One of contemporary cricket’s greatest batsmen, De Villiers, made a sudden announcement to retire from all forms of cricket with immediate effect, claiming to be “out of gas” after 14 years in the top league.

Congratulating De Villiers on his illustrious career, former India batsman Virender Sehwag said international cricket will be “poorer” without the South African talisman.

“Congratulations @ABdeVilliers17 , the most loved cricketer in the world, on a wonderful career. International cricket will be poorer without you, but you will continue to be celebrated by cricket fans around the world,” Sehwag wrote on his twitter handle.


Veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh echoed with Tendulkar.

“One of the world’s finest and most versatile batsmen, retires today. He’s played brilliantly till now and the world will surely miss seeing him on the field. @ABdeVilliers17,” Harbhajan tweeted.


Former India batting great VVS Laxman added: “Many congratulations @ABdeVilliers17 on a glorious Cricket career. You enriched the game with your ability, presence and mannerisms and will continue to be a role-model for aspiring cricketers. Wish you a very happy post-retirement life.”


De Villiers’ former national teammate and ex-South African fast bowler Allan Donald said he was shocked at the decision but thanked the batting legend for his contribution.

“So shocked to here @ABdeVilliers17 has decided to call time on his international career. But that’s just life and he feels it’s time to move on. Thank you great man for your amazing Match winning Performances, Skill Captaincy and most of all your Humility,” Donald tweeted.


Another of de Villiers’ former teammate Mark Boucher added: “I remember this young guy on his 1st day out for Proteas… What an inspiration, person and player he turned out to be. Thank you for everything you have done and been for your country, teammates and fans @ABdeVilliers17 #legend.”


Former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardena wished de Villiers on his post-retirement life.

“One of the best! Wish you all the best AB – amazing player but above all that great guy…,” Jayawardena wrote on his tweeter handle.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said de Villiers was a great advertisement for the game of cricket.

“Such a shame for international cricket @ABdeVilliers17 … But he has been an unbelievable advert to how I would have loved to have played all 3 formats .. GREAT GREAT Player … Top 3 that I have ever seen .. #AB,” Vaughan tweeted.


The Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) also took to twitter to wish de Villiers for his future endeavours.

“As the Proteas legend @ABdeVilliers17 calls it a day on his international career, we at BCCI would like to wish him all the very best for his future endeavours,” BCCI wrote.


Out of favour India pacer RP Singh, who was once de Villiers’ teammate in Royal Challengers Bangalore wrote: “The man who showed the world that batting 360° is an easy task. All the best for your future endeavours @ABdeVilliers17, thank you for all the unforgettable memories!”


Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said: “Champion batsman! I always enjoyed seeing you bat, the innovations that you brought to the game were a joy to watch esp the sweep shot off fast bowlers. Always respected your enormous talent, a true great of cricket. Stay Blessed.

“One of my most cherished wickets! 🙂 Most of the times it was a massive challenge getting you out. Congratulations on a wonderful career @ABdeVilliers17.”

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CSK beats Sunrisers to make their 7th IPL final

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Mumbai: South African skipper Faf du Plessis pulled off a ‘Houdini Act’ to guide Chennai Super Kings to their seventh Indian Premier League final with a two-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in what has been a fairy tale comeback in the cash-rich league.

Chasing a modest target of 140, CSK were down in dumps at 92 for 7 before Du Plessis (67 off 42 balls) engineered a stunning comeback and fittingly finished the match with a straight six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

With 43 needing off last three overs, Du Plessis, who opened the batting, launched into Carlos Brathwaite’s 18th over smashing him for 20 runs which included two sixes and two fours. Having done precious little in the tournament so far, the stylish right-hander put his hand up when it mattered most.

Siddarth Kaul bowling the 19th over paid for his inexperience in crunch game as 17 runs came off that over as no 10 Shardul Thakur (15 off 5 balls) got three boundaries including a streaky one. Then it was Du Plessis, who finished the match having hit five fours and four maximums.

Banned for two seasons on charges of corruption, the most successful franchise in the history of T20 cricket played like a team possessed with their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni once again at the forefront with calm demeanour.

However Sunrisers bowlers do deserve credit for making a match of a small total but this time their luck ran out in the end.

Shane Watson (0) edged one off Bhuvneshwar Kumar while Kaul (2/32) castled Suresh Raina (22 off 13 balls) and in-form Ambati Rayudu (0) off successive deliveries.

MS Dhoni failed to read a googly from Rashid Khan while Dwayne Bravo was done in by extra bounce edging one to Shikhar Dhawan at slips.

Du Plessis waged a lone battle as wickets fell in a heap at the other end with Sandeep Sharma getting rid of Ravindra Jadeja and Deepak Chahar.

Earlier, CSK bowlers utilised the lively conditions to the fullest restricting Sunrisers Hyderabad to a modest 139 for 7 after being put into bat.

Effective seam bowling in Powerplay overs swung the game towards two-time champions early on in the innings and they never let it slacken except towards the end when Carlos Brathwaite (43 off 29 balls) laid into Shardul Thakur.

Skipper Kane Willamson (24), Yusuf Pathan (24) and Brathwaite (43 in 29 balls) were the useful contributors for Sunrisers on a track that offered good bounce.

CSK pegged back Sunrisers at 47 for 3 with both Williamson and opener Shikhar Dhawan (0) back in the dugout.

Dhawan, the second-highest scorer for Sunrisers with 437 runs, was played on off Deepak Chahar of the first delivery of the match.

Williamson, in red-hot form in the season, produced three hits to the fence off the last three balls in the same over, an exquisite extra cover drive being the pick.

From the other end, Lungi Ngidi packed off the other opener Shreevats Goswami by accepting a smart return catch, when the batsman tried to pull.

At 34 for two Sunrisers, who came into the play-off game after suffering three straight losses, were in trouble and it worsened when they lost their skipper Williamson.

The New Zealand captain feathered a catch down leg-side ball off Shardul Thakur to rival captain Dhoni to leave Hyderabad reeling at 36 for 3 in the fifth over.

CSK, attempting to make it to their seventh final in nine seasons that they have been part of IPL, struck another blow just past the Powerplay period.

Shakib Al Hasan also fell to a leg-side catch by Dhoni off Dwayne Bravo (2/25) and it left Sunrisers at a spot at 50 for 4. After 10 overs, the score was a modest 64 for 4.

Ravindra Jadeja (1 for 13) sent back Manish Pandey cheaply as half the Sunrisers was back in the pavilion with only 69 on the board.

Then Bravo pulled off a stunner, pouching on to a low full-blooded drive from Pathan.

A late flurry from West Indian Brathwaite, who slammed Thakur for four huge sixes and a four in death overs, boosted the total significantly.

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