As 'Captain Cool' Dhoni turns 39, let's revisit his smashing records, stats

Agencies
July 7,2020

New Delhi, Jul 7: Wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni is known for his finishing heroics and ending the match with a big shot to send a billion people in a frenzy.

For over a decade, Dhoni's swashbuckling batting style, especially the famed helicopter shot, gave international bowlers a headache. As the former Indian skipper celebrates his 39th birthday today, let's relive his first century in international cricket.

It was on April 5, 2005, when Dhoni had registered his first international century. The former skipper registered the feat against Pakistan in the second ODI of the six-match series. The match was played at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam.

Dhoni had made his ODI debut against Bangladesh in 2004. However, he did not have a good outing as he scored just 19 runs in the three-match series. But the wicket-keeper truly arrived in the series against Pakistan in 2005, as he scored 148 runs in the second ODI of the six-match series at Visakhapatnam.

In the match, India won the toss and opted to bat first. The side lost Sachin Tendulkar's wicket in the fourth over of the innings and it brought Dhoni to the middle.

Dhoni, along with Sehwag, took on the Pakistan bowlers and the duo formed a 96-run stand, which saw Sehwag going past the 50-run mark. Sehwag (74) was sent back to the pavilion in the 14th over, but Dhoni then found support in Rahul Dravid and the duo stitched a 149-run stand.

Dhoni smashed 15 fours and four sixes in his innings and scored 148 runs from 123 balls, taking India's total to 356/9 in the allotted fifty overs.

India then managed to defend the total as the side bundled out Pakistan for 298 as Ashish Nehra scalped four wickets.

Dhoni has so far played 350 ODIs with his highest score being 183 against Sri Lanka. He also remains the only captain to win all major ICC trophies (50-over World Cup, T20 World Cup, and Champions Trophy).

Also referred to as 'Captain Cool', Dhoni is known for his calmness and exquisite captaincy on the field.

Over the years, he has cemented his place as one of the finest wicket-keepers across the world. His agility behind the stumps has given India many breakthroughs as the Ranchi-based wicket-keeper has done successful stumpings in no time.

He is also known for his knack of opting for reviews and many have jokingly remarked to change the 'Decision-Review System's' name to 'Dhoni-Review System'.

In December 2014, he announced his retirement from Tests and gave a chance to the likes of Wriddhiman Saha. Dhoni called time on his Test career after playing 90 Tests, managing to score 4,876 runs at an average of 38.09.

Then in 2017, he handed over the captaincy to Virat Kohli in the 50-over format. However, the wicket-keeper enjoys a great camaraderie with the latter and the duo have been seen often taking decisions together on the field.

Under Dhoni's leadership, India also managed to attain the number one ranking in Test cricket. His Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) has also won the tournament thrice under his leadership.

Dhoni was slated to return to the cricket field on March 29 during the IPL's opening match between CSK and Mumbai Indians. However, the tournament has been postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The 39-year-old has been currently enjoying some time away from the game. He last played competitive cricket during the 2019 World Cup. 

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I see Ben Stokes becoming one of England's greatest cricketers, says Dominic Cork

July 19,2020

Manchester, Jul 19: Former England pacer Dominic Cork reckons star all-rounder Ben Stokes will go on to become one of his country's greatest cricketers ever.

Stokes, the hero of England's World Cup triumph last year, sparkled with a fine 176 and powered his side to a strong first-inning total of 469/9 declared in the ongoing second Test against the West Indies here.

"I genuinely think he can get better because of his work ethic. He wants to bat, he wants to bowl, he wants to work on his game, wants to get better," Cork said on Sky Sports show The Cricket Debate.

"I know he works a hell of a lot on his bowling as well. I just see this man not becoming only the best in the world but one of the best we have had ever. That's how highly I rate him."

The former seamer thought things changed for better for the World Cup hero after the Bristol bar brawl three years ago.

Last year, Stokes himself had said that the unsavoury incident and the ensuing chain of events, which dogged his career for 15 months, may be the best thing that could have happened to him.

Following the incident in September 2017, Stokes was acquitted of affray by a Bristol court in August 2018, before the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) ended his 15-month exile after a hearing in December 2018.

Former England batsman Ravi Bopara also spoke about the remarkable change in Stokes' approach.

"I think there has definitely been a change with Ben. He has made his mistakes and learnt from them. He looks a formidable cricketer," he said.

"He is a fiery character and always has been - even if you are playing PlayStation in hotel rooms.

"But as he has had a more important role in the side as an all-rounder, making an impact with bat and ball, winning games for England, and since England have started looking at him as the main guy, his attitude has changed with it."

West Indies lead the three-match series 1-0 after their win in the opener at Southamton.

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Anirban Lahiri back in action after 5 months, joins Atwal at Wyndham

News Network
August 12,2020

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Greensboro (US), Aug 12: India's Anirban Lahiri is finally going to tee off at a PGA tournament this week when he plays at the Wyndham Championship, ending his five-month long coronavirus-forced break.

"It's been a long, long time," said Lahiri.

"I am hungry and all ready to go. I came to India for the Hero Indian Open and then had to stay back as the Covid outbreak started spreading all over."

This week Lahiri and Atwal will play in the Wyndham Championships at the Sedgefield Country Club.

Due to the long break, Lahiri was not even able to go back to the US because of travel restrictions.

But now he is back in the US and excited about playing his first event since early March.

"I'm feeling excited. It's not something I've felt like in a long time," Lahiri said.

"It's like going back to school after a summer vacation. It's a good thing."

Lahiri, who spent a lot of the time in India with his parents, later moved to Ahmedabad to be with his coach, Vijay Divecha, and started working on his game.

"Mentally, I decided that I was going to focus on the next 2020-21 season, instead of thinking about the ongoing one. I took it as an opportunity to work on my game and rebuild it," he said.

"After all, how many times does anyone get a chance to work on the game and assess it with one's coach and stay away from tournaments without needing to worry about the Tour card.

"This was one such chance," added Lahiri, as the PGA Tour decided that all players would keep the status they had for the 2020 season.

Lahiri had a proper status.

"I got to spend six weeks with Vijay which I haven't done in like five or six years. It's a big reset and I was able to work continuously with him," said Lahiri, who has gone through a lean spell.

"That was the reason I needed and wanted to work on my game. In the past few years I would get short periods of practice with Vijay and we would try fix the problems. They were just that – fixes. Now, I had a proper stretch of time, and I grabbed it."

With a hearty laugh, he said, "I was telling someone, that basically (we) disassembled the engine and put everything back together."

Lahiri and Divecha worked on just about everything.

He added, "This time, we have rebuilt from scratch. It was like I was starting golf again -- right from the basic, the grip, posture, the fundamentals. It was a re-set button. In a way it was like writing something new on a clean slate."

This week Lahiri will have Arjun Atwal for company at the Wyndham Championship. This is where Atwal won India's first and only PGA Tour title.

Lahiri has played at the Donald Ross-designed Sedgefield Country Club, in the past.

"It is tree-lined and you have to shape shots. There's a good mix of lengthy holes and shortish holes. If you get hot, you can make lots of birdies and rise up the leaderboard."

Lahiri did not watch much of golf during the last few months.

"I would follow scores maybe once a day, not like looking at my phone every few minutes. I was focused on working on my game and I feel good about it. So, I am excited."

The Wyndham Championship is the final event of the Regular Season.

For Lahiri, who is way down in the FedExCup points list, it is more a question of testing his game and then getting ready for the new season which begins right after the Play-offs.

Atwal, who had a few starts last few weeks, is 215th and Lahiri is 219th.

So, getting into 125th is a long shot, unless Atwal or Lahiri can pull off something big on Sunday.

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IPL final to be played on Nov 10, evening matches to start half-an-hour earlier than usual

Agencies
August 3,2020

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New Delhi, Aug 2: The finals of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 will be played on November 20, the sources within the BCCI confirmed on Sunday.

The IPL's governing council met earlier today, and it has also been decided that the evening matches will start at 7:30 pm, half an hour earlier than usual.

Jay Shah, the secretary of BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) and Arun Dhumal, treasurer of BCCI did not attend the IPL's governing council meeting.

"The tournament will run for 51 days, usually the IPL should go on for 49 days as per the constitution, however in the meeting it has been decided that we will go to Supreme Court for conducting the IPL in 51 days," sources within the BCCI said.

"As the tournament is running for 51 days, we will get the chance to play fewer doubleheaders, there would be just 10 double headers, evening matches will start at 7:30 and the afternoon matches will start at 3:30. 

The matches will be played across three venues at Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah as travelling here by road is easier and bio-secure environment can be maintained," he added.

The IPL's governing council also confirmed that Women's IPL will also go on and four teams would be participating in it.

"When it comes to women's IPL, there would be four teams and the matches would be played at the time of playoffs for men's IPL," the source said.

The source within the BCCI also said that the governing council would be meeting again to discuss the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for all the franchises that need to be followed in the IPL.

The governing council meeting discussed the quarantine measures along with the standard operating procedures (SOP), bio bubble training facilities, stay and travel of the players.

Issues related to the broadcaster, shifting, and scheduling of the tournament, and DXB app to be downloaded for players and other officials were also discussed as well.

A few days earlier, the IPL Governing Council chairman Brijesh Patel had confirmed that the 13th edition of the mega event will commence on September 19 in the UAE.

This year's IPL was slated to commence from March 29 but the tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had also confirmed receiving the official Letter of Intent from the BCCI to host the 2020 edition of the IPL.

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