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Shoaib Akhtar Calls Sarfaraz Ahmed 'Brainless Captain' After Loss To India

Former Pakistani fast-bowler Shoaib Akhtar has criticised the Pakistan team for their poor show against arch-rivals India in the World Cup 2019 encounter. Riding on a hundred by the vice-captain Rohit Sharma and half centuries from Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, India beat Pakistan by 89 runs. Shoaib was critical of Pakistan captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed and called him 'brainless' while explaining the outcome of the match that took place in Manchester on Sunday. Sarfaraz won the toss and sent India to bat first in the crucial game and the decision back-fired, giving Pakistan their third loss of World Cup 2019.

Shoaib said that Sarfaraz made similar sorts of mistakes that Kohli made during the 2017 Champions Trophy final.

"Like Virat Kohli sent Pakistan to bat on a good batting surface in Champions Trophy, Sarfaraz made the same mistake today. How can someone be so brainless as a captain? He didn't even think that we are not good at chasing down targets and opted to field first after winning the toss," Akhtar said.

The former fast-bowler further mentioned that Pakistan had won half the battle when the toss went in their favour. However, Sarfaraz tried hard to lose the match.

"When you've won the toss, you already had the upper hand in the game but you (Sarfaraz) tried hard to lose the game. Yet again brainless captaincy, brainless management, at the same time there was no thinking behind the scenes," Akhtar added.

The 43-year-old former Pakistan spearhead further elucidated that had Pakistan opted to bat first and put even 260 on the board, they would have been in the game. "If Pakistan had scored 260 batting first on that wicket, the scoreboard pressure could've played an important role and Pakistan might have ended up on the other side of the result," he said.

With the loss against India, Pakistan are now in a situation where they have to win every game and that too with a big margin to better their net run-rate and to stand any chance of advancing to the knockout stages of the tournament.

All Eyes On Manchester Weather As India Take On Pakistan In Blockbuster Clash

India and Pakistan will resume their exhilarating cricket rivalry when they lock horns in a World Cup 2019 league stage match at Old Trafford in Manchester on Sunday. However, the rain gods might play a spoilsport in the blockbuster clash. If weather permits, the arch-rivals will leave no stone unturned in the match that created a storm well before its arrival. While India, under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, are unbeaten in World Cup 2019 so far, Sarfaraz Ahmed-led Pakistan have just a solitary win to their name -- a shock victory over top-ranked England.

Even if they feel that it's just another game, perhaps all players in their hearts know that this is a special match even if at times the reason is purely non-cricketing.

No wonder Sachin Tendulkar urges Indian batsmen to be more aggressive against a skillful Amir unlike 2017 Champions Trophy while skipper Kohli speaks about having an "ideal mindset" even if the first-timers may find the "occasion intimidating". The narrative of India vs Pakistan duel is such that irrespective of whether it is a World Cup game or not, it creates heroes or villains for life in the eyes of fans.

Ajay Jadeja's assault of Waqar Younis in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal or Salim Malik's 72 off 35 balls in a tough run chase that stunned the 90,000 plus at Eden Gardens in 1987 are stuff of legends.

People remember these matches while forgetting that both were proven match fixers, who brought the game into disrepute.

Chetan Sharma, despite a World Cup hat-trick and five-for in a Lord's Test, is remembered for Javed Miandad's last ball six in Sharjah in 1986. He was a far better bowler than that to live with a curse of a full-toss.

Hrishikesh Kanitkar's international career wouldn't possibly deserve a footnote but people still remember him fondly because of his last ball boundary off Saqlain Mushtaq, under fading lights in Dhaka in 1998.

Both defy logic but since when have fans cared about logic.

For them, this is 'The Match' and there's a binary feel to it. Either you win or lose. Everything else is forgotten duly.

The exponential increase of media frenzy always hypes it up at insane level even though all the six World Cup duels that India have won have been pretty one-sided.

The Bengaluru quarter-final in 1996 or Mohali semi-final in 2011 were exciting but it didn't go down to the wire. But with no bilateral series being played for years now, each match despite being lop-sided has had a certain novelty attached with it.

On the field, Amir's first spell will certainly keep his team interested after a brilliant performance against Australia. Rahul and Rohit, both of whom have minimal footwork in beginning of an innings, will try to be more assertive.

Kohli has always enjoyed a fabulous track record against Pakistan, having scored a hundred in the 2015 game at Adelaide. A hundred is due and Indian captain's sense of occasion makes him a big contender for a three-figure mark.

It will be a test of temperament for the youngsters like Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi, who have hardly bowled to the world's best batsman.

The Old Trafford looks good for batting even though conditions will aid both seam and swing. India's middle-order will have a role to play in the game. Dinesh Karthik's experience was supposedly the choice of the team management in the last game but that was factoring in a curtailed game.

In case of a full game, Vijay Shankar could be the No 4 if India wants a few overs of seam-up stuff from him or else stick to Karthik, who has more experience of pressure situations.

The seaming conditions and Pakistan's comfort against spinners might prompt Kohli to drop one among Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav and go for Mohammed Shami, who could be devastating in these conditions.

Jasprit Bumrah will have a score to settle against Fakhar Zaman, bowling against whom, the last thing he would want is to overstep.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar would like to bowl that probing off-stump line which can keep opposition best bet Babar Azam at bay.

Mohammed Hafeez's years of experience will be up against Hardik Pandya's panache. Last but not the least, India's MS Dhoni will "lead" from the back and that will be the team's trump card.

Squads:

India: Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohmmed Shami, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan.

Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Shahdab Khan, Mohammed Hafeez, Mohammed Hasnain, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Mohammed Aamir, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Asif Ali. 

Yuvraj Singh, hero of India's 2011 World Cup triumph, retires from international cricket

Yuvraj Singh has announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect. Yuvraj, 37, last played for India in an ODI against West Indies on June 30, 2017.

Overall, Yuvraj Singh played 40 Tests, 304 ODIs and 58 T20 Internationals for India from 2003 to 2017. In 2007, Yuvraj Singh showed his big tournament mentality when he hit Stuart Broad for 6 sixes in Durban during the first ever World T20. He followed that up with a barnstorming fifty against Australia and played a crucial hand as India won the first edition of the World T20.

Yuvraj Singh was at his best in the 2011 World Cup. 362 runs, 15 wickets, 4 man-of-the-match awards and the Player of the Tournament - Yuvraj Singh would forever be remembered for his scintillating performance in India’s second World Cup triumph at home.

After the World Cup, it emerged Yuvraj Singh had battled cancer throughout the tournament. He went overseas for treatment and just when everyone thought he would never again take the cricket field, Yuvraj went away to France for a training stint. Back in India much slimmer and fitter, Yuvraj Singh showed what he was still capable of with a 35-ball 77 in a T20 International against Australia.

Yuvraj Singh was never again the same player after the 2011 World Cup. But he continued to be a huge favourite for teams in the Indian Premier League.

In 2014, Yuvraj Singh went to Royal Challengers Bangalore for Rs 14 crore while Delhi Capitals snapped him up for Rs 16 crore the next year. Sunrisers Hyderabad invested Rs 7 crore in Yuvraj Singh in 2016.

After a dismal stint with Kings XI Punjab in the 2018 IPL season, Yuvraj Singh was bought for his base price by Mumbai Indians.

ICC vs MS Dhoni: BCCI backs Mahi over Army crest on gloves

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has thrown its weight behind MS Dhoni after the International Cricket Council (ICC) objected to the army crest on his wicketkeeping gloves during India's World Cup 2019 opening match against South Africa on June 5.

Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai confirmed that BCCI has written a letter to the International Cricket Council seeking permission for Dhoni to wear the gloves with the army badge.

"We have already written (to ICC to seek permission for MS Dhoni to wear 'Balidaan' insignia on his gloves), will speak more after the meeting (CoA meeting)," Vinod Rai said.

Chairman of Indian Premier League, Rajeev Shukla said the ICC should not have any objection to let MS Dhoni wear the gloves as there is no commercial aspect involved in the gesture.

"It's not a commercial or a religious thing. It's only about the country's pride. So I don't think the ICC should have any objection because it has got nothing to do with commercial endorsements," Rajeev Shukla said.

'It would need to be considered by the ICC'

Claire Furlong, ICC General Manager, Strategic Communications, had said that the BCCI has been asked to get the symbol removed from Dhoni's gloves.

"We have requested the BCCI to get it removed," Claire Furlong had said.

However, Clarie Furlong confirmed the BCCI's request and said the decision will only be taken by the apex body of world cricket.

Fans in India were furious after the ICC asked MS Dhoni to change his gloves. in fact, #DhoniKeepTheGlove started trending on social media on Friday as several fans came out to support Dhoni over his gesture.

On the other hand, former India football team captain Baichung Bhutia said it's important for a player of any stature to respect the rules of the sport.

"I think it's a wonderful gesture from MS Dhoni but at the same time, it's important to follow the rules and laws of the sport. If the laws and rules do not permit, then I think as a player he shouldn't be wearing it," Baichung Bhutia said.

"If you start somewhere and then a lot of controversies may follow. So I think I think, for every player, no matter how big the player is, the laws need to be followed."

SunRisers Hyderabad Aim To Remain In Playoffs Contention With Win Over Royal Challengers Bangalore

SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH), after registering a loss against Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Super Over, would look to come back stronger to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and remain in playoffs contention, when the two franchises cross swords at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday. SRH would be eyeing to shrug off their Super Over defeat and add two points to take their tally to 14 points. Despite their defeat against Mumbai Indians on Thursday, Hyderabad's net run rate is +0.653, which is superior to others in contention for the playoffs.

Even if the Hyderabad franchise loses their last match, they can still reach playoffs if Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab don't win more than one of their last two matches.

In the absence of their batting mainstay David Warner, young Manish Pandey (71 off 47 balls) shouldered the responsibility pretty well in the last match against Mumbai as he pushed the match into the Super Over after he carted Hardik Pandya for a last-ball six to bring the scores level.

Mumbai Indians had scored 162 for five in the allotted 20 overs. Needing nine to win in super over, Pandya and Kieron Pollard took the side home with three balls to spare.

The Hyderabad franchise had managed 8 for 2 with Jasprit Bumrah bagging Pandey and Mohammed Nabi's wickets.

Captain Kane Williamson, all-rounder Vijay Shankar and comeback man Wriddhiman Saha will look to score in the key match. Hyderabad bowlers have performed well in patches and need to get their act together against Bangalore's master blasters AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli.

The visitors boast of multi-pronged attack in which Afghanistan's Rashid Khan has been the standout performer.

Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed and experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar, along with the Afghan spin twins Rashid and Mohammed Nabi add sting to Hyderabad attack.

The Bangalore outfit will be playing for pride after their hopes of entering playoffs went up in smoke after their match against Rajasthan Royals was abandoned due to rain.

Squads:

SunRisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (capt), Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey, T Natarajan, Ricky Bhui, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Shreevats Goswami, Khaleel Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, Billy Stanlake, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Shakib Al Hasan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Martin Guptill, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (capt), Parthiv Patel (wk), AB de Villiers, Colin de Grandhomme, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Moeen Ali, Shimron Hetmyer, Dale Steyn, Shivam Dube, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Devdutt Padikkal, Himmat Singh, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Heinrich Klaasen, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar, Akshdeep Nath, Prayas Ray Barman, Kulwant Khejroliya, Tim Southee.

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