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Duminy delivers DD their first win

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 In a match dominated by Indians – and on a day that saw six Test players fail to open their accounts in the IPL – it was the cool headedness of JP Duminy that shone brightest and secured Delhi Daredevils their first win of the tournament. Set a challenging 166, Daredevils rode on Dinesh Karthik’s brisk 55 but ultimately had an excellent unbeaten 52 off 35 balls from Duminy to thank as victory was achieved with four wickets and three deliveries remaining.

The continued absence of Kevin Pietersen would have been a downer for the fans gathered at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, but they were still treated to an engaging game of Twenty20. There was some bounce in the track to assist the pace bowlers and keep the batsman wary of plonking their front feet forward, yet this did not result in a low-scoring game. After KKR’s openers went for ducks, the Karnataka pair of Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa played punchy innings to help get their team to 166 for 5. In pursuit of 166, DD were jolted early but Karthik and Duminy ensured a fight and in the end a nail-biter was sealed with Duminy’s third six. A couple dropped catches and some missed run-out opportunities added to the quixotic nature of game seven of IPL 7.

The match had started terribly for KKR with Jacques Kallis edging his first ball to first slip where Ross Taylor held a good low take and Gautam Gambhir bagging a second consecutive pair, turning Nathan Coulter-Nile to a well placed leg slip. KKR were 11 for 2.

Pandey carried on from where he was cut off on Wednesday, producing a solid innings with an array of crisp drives and pulls. He ran well between the wickets and was quick to use the depth of his crease to work the ball into the gaps. Pandey dominated a stabilizing partnership of 64 with Uthappa with a 42-ball 48 which ended when he missed an arm ball from Shahbaz Nadeem in the 11th over.

Uthappa, who got a life on 7 when Taylor spilled an overhead catch at short midwicket, was on 15 off 19 balls at this stage and opened up with a flurry of boundaries. Favouring the leg-side, Uthappa hurried to 55 before he swung Jaydev Unadkar to Taylor at deep midwicket. The final over of the innings veered both teams’ way, as Coulter-Nile bowled three superb yorkers in between a wide and two boundary-balls.

A target of 166 pointed to a close finish and that’s how it turned out. After propping up KKR with the bat, Pandey gave them an early boost when he nailed a direct hit from backward point to run out Murali Vijay for 0. Mayank Agarwal batted in only one gear as he sped to 26 off 14 balls before top-edging a quick rising delivery from Morne Morkel to square leg, leaving DD at 39 for 2 in four overs.

Taylor, promoted to No 4 after batting two spots lower against Royal Challengers Bangalore, was the next to go when he played all over an inswinger from Kallis. Left to anchor the innings, Karthik played a sparkling innings in which he didn’t shy away from pulling out the big hits. Spin made its introduction for the tenth over in the form of Piyush Chawla, who was slammed over deep backward square leg for six and slammed to the point boundary off successive deliveries by Karthik. Sunil Narine appeared to bowl the 11th over but it wasn’t until the 15th that he struck, as Karthik missed a reverse-sweep and was sent on his way for 56 off 40 balls. Soon after that Manoj Tiwary sliced Morkel to Narine at third.

Shifting gears superbly, however, Duminy collected a four and two sixes of his South African team-mate Morkel, jumping around in his crease to swat consecutive sixes in the arc between square leg and short fine leg. Those brazen shots left DD to get 11 off 12 balls and though Chawla had Jimmy Neesham caught in the deep, Duminy swung the next ball over backward square leg for six. It was a truly exhilirating innings from Duminy.

Brief scores: Delhi Daredevils 167 for 6 in 19.3 overs (JP Duminy 52*, Dinesh Karthik 56) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 166 for 5 in 20 overs (Robin Uthappa 55, Manish Pandey; Nathan Coulter-Nile 2/27) by four wickets

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ICC World T20: MHA calls review meet to discuss security for Indo-Pak match in Dharamsala

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ICC World T20: MHA calls review meet to discuss security for Indo-Pak match in Dharamsala

A delegation from Pakistan also visited the Stadium on Monday to review security arrangements.

New Delhi: Dark clouds over the high-profile clash of the ICC World T20 between India and Pakistan, scheduled to be played in Himanchal, are still intact.

As per the latest updates, Ministry of Home Affaris (MHA) has called a review meeting on Tuesday to discuss security of the match, which is to be played on March 19 at HPCA stadium in Dharamsala.

The two-member delegation from Pakistan has also visited the Stadium on Monday to review security arrangements ahead of the much-anticipated match.

Indo-Pak match, which is possibly the biggest game of the tournament, has been under scrutiny since Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh said he opposed the BCCI’s decision to stage it in his state.

While BCCI has assured the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) of complete security to their player, but several groups have threatened to disrupt this encounter.

Earlier, speaking to CNN-IBN, PCB chief Shaharyar Khan had said that he was not keen on his team playing in Dharamsala and that he would be happy to consider an alternate venue should BCCI suggest one.

He said they were open at any venue across the country like Mohali, Kolkata and Chennai.

Khan said that the statements from the Congress party and its CM did not inspire confidence in visitors’ team.

“The CM of Himachal Pradesh has said that he won’t provide us with security, what greater threat can you think of? Our team is there to review the security,” he stated.

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For Mahendra Singh Dhoni, age has different connotations

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For Mahendra Singh Dhoni, age has different connotations

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, from time to time, sends across messages to national selectors, his own teammates and to fans through a prying media.

Ever since he quit Test cricket, the one question he is frequently confronted is when will he be quitting the other two formats. After the World Cup, he was asked again about his retirement plans. His answer was a crisp one liner:

“I am 33, I’m still running and I am still fit, next year (at the World T20) will be the right time to decide if I should play World Cup 2019.”

For good measure, like all sportspersons, he says he plays for the enjoyment of the game and the day he decides to go, “I will pack my bags and happily go away”.

After Mustafizur Rahman damaged Dhoni’s and India team’s reputation with back-to-back fifers, the question of his retirement cropped up again and this time he turned melodramatic, stating that by removing him the team was expected to do well and if he was the reason for the down slide of Indian cricket he would step down.

“I was never really in line to become a captain. It was a job or responsibility for me. I have taken that responsibility. If they want to take it away, I am happy to give it away.”

Then came the ODI series in Australia and India lost 1-4 despite scoring 300-plus scores in four of the five matches and 295 in the other, but the T20 sweep gave him a new life and the team suddenly looked world-beaters. Their potential to win the T20 World Cup can be seen from the way Dhoni moulded a team with some outstanding fielders.

So, the upcoming World T20 is more important to him than, perhaps, the team. If India win, he might say he would like to take one match at a time, one series after another for the next three years!

Dhoni is not one to miss out on a trick. He quickly decided to quit Test cricket midway through a series in Australia, as he had hinted a year ago about giving up one of the three punishing formats. After seeing Virat Kohli’s imaginative and aggressive captaincy in Tests down under, people did not see beyond the World Cup.

The World Cup revived Dhoni’s fortunes. His team remained unbeaten till they lost to Australia in the semi-finals. They bowled out all their seven opponents till their exit game to set a record.

There was another hiccup when India lost the ODI series in Bangladesh for the first time last year and soon after South Africa got the better of Dhoni’s side here at home. There was another round of Dhoni bashing. The selectors, however, backed him and made sure there were no other media plants about him being replaced by announcing that he would remain captain till the T20 World Cup.

He has a knack of speaking his mind out and his messages are taken seriously, too, by one and all. He is accused of getting rid of seniors, barring Sachin Tendulkar, from the team — first as One-Day captain and then from the Test squad. Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman felt aggrieved at the way the message was sent across.

The much-maligned Greg Chappell noticed a spark in Dhoni and marked him down as a future captain one year before he actually took over as captain of the shorter formats and he went on to win the inaugural T20.

Five months after winning the T20 championship in South Africa, Dhoni’s next move was to weed out seniors from the ODI side, though a couple of them returned to the side briefly before bowing out.

After winning his first major title he said he would prefer daring players willing to stand in front of a moving truck. After winning the Commonwealth Bank ODI series, his tone was a little more assertive. He said he was pretty clear about the players he wanted in the squad, a statement even Ganguly did not make publicly. He was roundly criticised as selectoral deliberations were leaked, making him out a villain.

He told the youngsters he had fought for then that they must perform to vindicate his belief in them. After winning the series, he rubbed it in, asking the media why the team selection was no longer an issue, wondering what would have happened if they had not won!

If Dhoni thought Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly would be liabilities in the Twenty20 field, he now finds age is only a number when it came to Ashish Nehra, 36, Harbhajan Singh, 35, and Yuvraj Singh, who at 34 is as old as Dhoni himself, as key figures in his scheme of things for the World T20 in India next month.

For pundits, at one point of time Dhoni was a cool, thinking captain and after defeats in a couple of series overseas he was a mere mannequin in an unmarketable garment superstore.

Dhoni is not the first captain to be sacked by media or former players and will not be the last. The board and the selectors backed captains for strange reasons, but now on the selection committee will be the sole authority as the president may not have the power to overrule it.

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Six ‘hatke’ ideas for India to conquer South Africa on Sunday

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India South africa match

Written by Nimish Dubey

It might have won the tournament twice and finished runner up once, but India have never beaten South Africa at the World Cup. Three times have the teams met at the mega event, and three times have South Africa won, notwithstanding generally decent performances from the Men in Blue (well, dark blue the first time around in 1992, and lighter shades in 1999 and 2011). Can this drought be brought to an end? Well, yes – all India need to do is score more runs than the South Africans. But that slice of cricketing common sense apart, these six tips could come handy in ending the Protean jinx. Yes, they might sound a little out of the box, but then one day cricket is all about innovation, isn’t it?

Bat second

Notice something about India’s three defeats? The Men in Blue always batted first. Yes, the South Africans bring on the implosions more often when they tend to bat second – they have lost four of their five matches in the knock out stages of the World Cup while batting second (the exception being when they batted first against Australia in the 2007 semi-final). So hot tip one for MSD and his boys: bowl first, if you win the toss. If you lose the toss, quickly shake the hand of your counterpart, and say “Oh hell, you have won the toss. Fine, we will bowl first!

Do NOT score too many

Yes, you read that right. The feet of clay of the might South Africans become most apparent when they have to chase relatively small, seemingly gettable totals. Give them a big total to chase and they will chase it down in an organised manner, feeling they have not much to lose if they fail. Put them in a winning position, as Australia did in 1999 and New Zealand did in 2011, and in creep the jitters. So switch the batting order, pack the side with bowlers, and hope to reach 200 and not 300. Impose fines on batsmen who try to bat at anything more than a run every two deliveries and go beyond the sacred mark of thirty five. And then sit back and hope that nerves do their work.

Bring on the rain

The weather forecast says that it will be cloudy in Melbourne when India and South Africa meet. If those clouds drip, half of India’s work is done. For, if past history is anything to go on, all that is needed is a spot of rain during the match for chaos to make itself felt in the South African dressing room – remember what happened with the rain breaks and revised targets in 1992 and 2003? So, do the rain dances, open the umbrellas, look up at the sky in apprehension, turn up at the toss sporting a tilak and say that the team was conducting a havan for rain…anything to make the Proteas start looking at two most feared gentlemen in cricket: Duckworth and Lewis! And ah yes, if possible, tamper the D&L sheets.

Make South Africa the favourites

All right, so this goes against the grain of the ‘We Won’t Give It Back’ slogan, but a word from the cricketing wise: uneasy lies the South African head that expects the crown. Unlike Australia, who almost revel in being the favourites, South Africa are distinctly jittery with the idea of being firm favourites when it comes to cricket. So a few kind words at the toss and at the pre-match presser on how good the South Africans will do as much damage as a few quick wickets or runs. Give them the favourites status – and relax. They will give it back to you. On a platter.

Dedicate the match to a prominent South African player

Forget about the icy cold stare of Jacques Kallis. The South Africans have always been susceptible to sentiment. Their worst World Cup performance – and indeed their only first round exit ever – came when they tried to dedicate their World Cup to their former (albeit disgraced) skipper Hansie Cronje in 2003. They have done nothing of the sort so far, so perhaps Team India could pull a quick one on them and hint that they need to dedicate the match to someone, or maybe even do one better and themselves dedicate their performance to a South African. Imagine Virat Kohli saying, “I dedicate my performance to the man I blew a kiss to in the Pepsi ad. This one is for you, Jacques.” There won’t be a dry eye in the South African dressing room, and well, misty-eyed batsmen don’t get too many, do they?

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