ICC Test rankings: Virat Kohli reclaims top spot from Steve Smith

News Network
December 4, 2019

Dubai, Dec 4: India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday regained the top spot in the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Test rankings after Australian Steve Smith slipped a rung in the latest list issued here.

Kohli, who had struck a fine 136 in the day-night Kolkata Test against Bangladesh last week to reach 928 points, is now five points clear after Smith's knock of 36 in the Adelaide Test against Pakistan saw him slip to 923 points from 931 before the match.

Cheteshwar Pujara has held on to his fourth spot, while Ajinkya Rahane has come down a spot to sixth in the latest update.

Among the bowlers, Jasprit Bumrah is the highest-placed Indian at the fifth position. Senior off-spinner R Ashwin was also static at ninth in the rankings.

"Australia opener David Warner's epic 335 not out has lifted him 12 places to the fifth position while Marnus Labuschagne is in the top 10 for the first time after being ranked as low as 110th at the start of the year," the ICC said in a statement.

Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc is another Australia player to gain in the latest rankings, which also takes into account performances in the drawn New Zealand-England Test in Hamilton and the one in Lucknow that saw the West Indies defeat Afghanistan by nine wickets.

Starc has moved up four places to 14th after grabbing seven wickets in the Adelaide Test.

Pakistan middle-order batsman Babar Azam has moved up two places to 13th, thanks to his fighting knock of 97 in the first innings, while left-handed opener Shan Masood has gained 10 places to reach a career-best 47th position after striking 68 in the second innings.

England captain Joe Root is back in the top 10 after spending a week outside it, his innings of 226 pulling him up to seventh from 11th. Rory Burns' second Test century has pushed him into the top 40 for the first time.

For New Zealand, Ross Taylor has gained two places to reach 16th among batsmen and Tim Southee has moved up one place to 13th among bowlers.

West Indies captain Jason Holder's five wickets have helped him move up one slot to third place with a career-best 830 rating points and he has also consolidated his position at the top of the all-rounders' list.

Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall has broken into the top 50 with a 10-wicket haul while centurion Shamarh Brooks has risen 68 places to 62nd.

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News Network
September 22,2020

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Dubai, Sept 22: Royal Chellangers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli on Monday credited wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal's three-wicket burst for his side's 10-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening IPL match here.

Chahal (3/18) removed in-form Englishman Jonny Bairstow (61) and Vijay Shankar in successive balls in the 16th over to tilt the game decisively in RCB's favour. He had earlier gotten rid of Manish Pandey (34) in the 12th over.

"It's amazing to be honest. Last year, we were on the other side of the result, 6-nil to start. It is nice to be 1-nil. We kept our composure tonight," Kohli said at the post-match presentation.

"Yuzi (Chahal) comes in and completely changed the game for us. Not many spinners got much out of the pitch, but tonight he showed that you can turn it if you have it in your wrists. He showed he can get purchase on any wicket. The way he came in and bowled attacking lines, he changed the game."

Talking about his side's batting, Kohli said, "We started really well. Devdutt was really good on debut, Finchy as well. AB batting in the last three overs helped us push it past 160."

Asked if he thought 163 was a good enough total to defend, he said, "When you lose two in two, you have to consolidate. If not for two in two, you were looking at maybe 10-20 runs more.

"In the past if we had 43 off 5, you'd see the shoulders dropping but the guys kept believing, kept attacking. Someone like Washy not bowling enough and a part-timer doing it are good signs. The fact that we didn't let negativity slip into the bowling group was a great sign."

Player of the match Chahal said, "When I bowled my first over, I realized I need to bowl stump-to-stump line and backed myself.

"At one point they were batting well and I was trying to bowl loopy ones and wide of the reach which helped in building pressure."

Sunrisers captain David Warner said his side had the run chase in control initially but later knew they had to go after the bowlers in the end.

"I can't remember the last time I was out like that (run out off a deflection by Umesh Yadav at non-striker's end). It was a bizarre game for us. There were four things that happened in this game that I have never seen before," Warner said without elaborating.

"Probably the last over of Chahal was the turning point out there. We have to go back to the drawing board; we obviously can't fix what happened today but we have to go back and work hard before our next game in Abu Dhabi."

Talking about all-rounder Mitchell Marsh who twisted his ankle while bowling, Warner said, "A lot of courage for Mitchell (Marsh) to go out there and try. It doesn't look great for him, can't put any weight on his leg.

"Hopefully it isn't too bad, it was quite painful for him, so fingers crossed."

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September 13,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 13: India pacer S Sreesanth's ban for alleged spot-fixing came to an end on Sunday, concluding a seven-year punishment that was originally meant to be for life and was aggressively contested by the flamboyant bowler.

The 37-year-old has already made it clear that he intends to resume at least his domestic career at the end of the ban and his home state Kerala has promised to consider him if he manages to prove his fitness.

"I'm completely free of any charges nd anything nd now gonna represent the sport I love the most.will give my very best to every ball I ball even (if) it's just practice," he tweeted on Friday, a couple of days before the end of his suspension.

"Just have another 5 to 7 years max to give it all I've got nd I will give the very best to any team I play," he added.

However, with the Indian domestic season postponed at present due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it remains to be seen when exactly Sreesanth is able to make a comeback if Kerala decides to give him a chance.

The Indian domestic season starts in August but the pandemic has left the scheduling in complete disarray.

"...the BCCI is making all efforts to ensure that domestic cricket resumes as and when the conditions permit," BCCI President Sourav Ganguly wrote in a recent letter to presidents and secretaries of its affiliated member associations.

Sreesanth's life ban for alleged spot-fixing in the 2013 edition of the IPL was reduced to seven years by BCCI Ombudsman DK Jain last year.

Jain had observed that the cricketer is well past his prime having already served six years.

The BCCI banned Sreesanth in August 2013 along with his Rajasthan Royals teammates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan.

But on March 15 last year, the Supreme Court set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee's order and asked the Board to reconsider the quantum of punishment.

"I will never ever cheat cricket even when iam playing a friendly match..I don't ball (bowl) easy ones or try to loose...so pls get that right with everyone..." Sreesanth posted recently.

Sreesanth played 27 Tests and 53 ODIs for India, taking 87 and 75 wickets respectively. He has also taken seven wickets in 10 T20 Internationals.

The temperamental pacer was also popular for his exuberant celebrations after taking wickets but his life and career went downhill after the spot-fixing scandal.

However, he maintained his innocence throughout the damaging controversy.

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September 13,2020

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Japan's Naomi Osaka came from a set down to beat Victoria Azarenka of Belarus to win the US Open on Saturday and clinch her third Grand Slam title.

Osaka, the fourth seed, overcame her unseeded opponent 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 inside a near-empty Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows.

It brought 22-year-old Osaka's haul of tennis major trophies to three after her victories at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.

"I didn't really enjoy that. It was a really tough match for me," Osaka said following her 1hr 53min victory.

Azarenka, 31, sprinted to the first set in just 26 minutes, dominating Osaka with an 88 percent success rate on her first serve.

The Japanese was uncharacteristically sloppy, hitting a whopping 13 unforced errors.

Azarenka then went 2-0 ahead in the second set before Osaka fought back to break her opponent's serve twice and take a 4-3 lead.

The momentum had quickly swung in Osaka's favor and she broke a third time to take the match to a deciding set.

"I just thought it would be very embarrassing to lose this in under an hour so I just have to try as hard as I can and stop having a really bad attitude," said Osaka, explaining the turnaround.

Osaka enjoyed the first breakthrough of set three in game four when she broke Azarenka's serve to take a 3-1 lead.

Azarenka then blew a golden opportunity to get back into the match, wasting three break points as Osaka recovered from 0-40 to hold for a 4-1 lead.

Azarenka saved four break points to make it 4-2 as she battled to keep the contest alive.

When she broke Osaka in game seven, the set was back on serve.

But Osaka immediately broke back after Azarenka pushed a forehand wide to leave herself the opportunity of serving for the match and title.

On Osaka's second championship point, Azarenka found the net.

After touching racquets with her opponent, Osaka lay down in the middle of the court and looked up at the sky in celebration.

"I always see everyone sort of collapse after match point. But I always think you may injure yourself so I wanted to do it safely," Osaka said.

The match was watched by just a few dozen people, mostly officials, journalists and event staff after the coronavirus pandemic forced the tournament to be held behind closed doors.

Osaka had walked onto the court wearing a mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy who was shot dead by a white police officer in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014.

Osaka, of Japanese and Haitian heritage, wore different masks honoring victims of racial injustice and police brutality in each round of the tournament.

She also donned face coverings bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile.

Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, was playing in her first tennis major final since losing the 2013 US Open to Serena Williams.

The last few years of the former world number one's career have been disrupted, firstly by injury then by a custody battle over her son, born in December 2016.

But she enjoyed a fairytale run in New York, clinching the Western & Southern title before reaching Saturday's US Open final, where she lost for the third time.

"I want to thank my team for sticking with me, for believing in me," Azarenka said.

"It's been a long road of getting here, but this was fun," she added.

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