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Hardik Pandya Admits Suspension "Setback" Allowed Him To Improve, Focus Better

Hardik Pandya has admitted that his omission from cricket was an incentive to improve his game and his mentality, leading to a prolific IPL season that so far has accrued 186 runs with a strike rate of around 191, including his 37 runs off 16 balls on Monday that led Mumbai Indians (MI) to victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Hardik was put under provisional suspension by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for his controversial comments on a popular TV talk show. The suspension was subsequently lifted and Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul recently appeared before the BCCI Ombudsman. As of now, both are back on the playing arena.

"It's okay, everyone has a setback and for me, I got some time for my body (working on fitness routines) as well. The time I was out is helping me right now because I am in a good mindset and everything is coming right," Pandya said after the win over RCB.

Hardik was happy to be striking the ball after his return to cricket through the IPL. The flamboyant all-rounder has been MI's designated finisher, a role that he relishes.

"I have been doing that for the last four years now. That's my role in any team I play for. I have been practicing at the nets the same thing. It is about the situation. You play according to the situation and if you are smart enough, you will more often get the result you desire," he added.

Pandya is expected to play an instrumental role in this year's World Cup 2019 campaign and IPL seems to be providing him a solid foundation.

"It is pretty important to always have the confidence behind you. The World Cup is a big stage. It is for the first time that I will be playing (a World Cup). It is important for me to keep hitting the ball well. I was away from the game for some time, so coming back it was important for me to hit well," he said

About the World Cup in the UK, Pandya said if the conditions were similar to those during the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, India will have an advantage.

"We have to see the conditions because the last time we went, a lot of people told me that it will be swinging, it will be nice and cold but eventually, I have never played on such a flat wicket before.

"It will depend on the situation and the conditions. If it's the same conditions that we encountered in the Champions Trophy, it will be a help for us".

Pandya insisted that he will always focus on the basics, regardless of the event.

"Cricket will always be the same. Be it the World Cup or IPL, the pressure will be the same. I will follow my basics. That's what has got success for me and I will keep backing myself that way."

India World Cup Team 2019 Announced

India announced their 15-man squad for the ICC World Cup 2019, to be played in the UK from May 30, 2019. Virat Kohli will lead the squad, which was announced in Mumbai on Monday. While there were no major surprises in the 15, the inclusion of Dinesh Karthik was the notable factor and Rishabh Pant was the surprise exclusion. The announcement had been awaited with great anticipation, especially since the date was declared a while ago, with most of the conjecture surrounding who would be India's crucial No. 4 batsman. The squad was announced by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Acting Honorary Secretary Amitabh Choudhary, with Chairman of Selectors MSK Prasad sharing the dais.

The squad:

Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MSD (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami

Veteran Dinesh Karthik pipped young Turk Rishabh Pant in the fight for the second wicket-keeper's slot.

There were no surprises as the MSK Prasad-headed selection committee maintained continuity in their choices with the only topic of discussion being the second wicketkeeper.

The 33-year-old Karthik got the nod ahead of the 21-year-old Pant despite an indifferent IPL campaign with the Kolkata Knight Riders.

"The second wicketkeeper comes into play only if Mahi (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) is injured. We went ahead with Karthik because of his experience in big matches," Prasad said while announcing the squad here. The side, expectedly led by Virat Kohli, comprises five specialist batsmen, two wicket-keepers, three fast bowlers, three all-rounders, and two specialist spinners.

Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar made it for his "three-dimensional" qualities.

MS Dhoni Fined For Charging Onto The Field During RR vs CSK IPL 2019 Match

MS Dhoni has been fined 50 percent of his match fees after the Chennai Super Kings captain charged onto the field to confront the umpires for not giving a no-ball in the last over of CSK's chase against Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Thursday night. The CSK captain admitted to the "Level 2 offense 2.20 of the IPL's Code of Conduct and accepted the sanction". The incident took place during the last over of the RR vs CSK IPL 2019 match, which the visitors went onto win in a thrilling last-ball finish.

"MS Dhoni, the Chennai Super Kings captain, was fined 50 percent of his match fees for breaching the VIVO Indian Premier League's (IPL) Code of Conduct during his team's match against Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur," an official IPL statement said.

"Mr. Dhoni admitted to the Level 2 offense 2.20 of the IPL's Code of Conduct and accepted the sanction."

MS Dhoni led from the front and scored a match-winning half-century as Chennai Super Kings outclassed Rajasthan Royals by four wickets.

With this victory, MS Dhoni became the first captain in the history of Indian Premier League (IPL) to win 100 matches. MS Dhoni has won 29 more matches than Gautam Gambhir, who is second on the list.

Mitchell Santner smashed Ben Stokes for a maximum off the final ball to help CSK seal a last-ball thriller.

But the clash witnessed a big controversy when Dhoni strode onto the field unhappy with the decision of the umpires to not award his team a no-ball.

Dhoni, who was standing right on the boundary ropes threw his hands up in the air after noticing that umpire Ulhas Gandhi put his arm up, only to be overruled by square leg umpire Bruce Oxenford.

Despite, Dhoni's long-drawn protest, the decision stood, which left CSK six off the last two balls.

Virat Kohli named 'Leading Cricketer' for third successive time by Wisden

The Wisden Almanack named Virat Kohli as the Leading Cricketer of the Year for 2018 on Wednesday (April 10). The Indian captain also was picked as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the year, along with Tammy Beaumont, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, and Rory Burns. Meanwhile, Smriti Mandhana bagged the Women's Leading Cricketer of the Year.

Kohli, who was picked as the Leading Cricketer of the Year for the third time in a row, composed 2735 runs across the three formats in 2018. He was in prime form during the tour of England, where he notched up 593 runs over five Tests at an average of 59.3. He ended the year with five Test hundreds to his name. Don Bradman (10 times) and Jack Hobbs (8 times) are the only two cricketers who have bagged the award on more than three occasions.

Mandhana, who won the Leading Women's Cricketer of the Year, scored 669 and 662 runs in ODIs and T20Is during the course of 2018. She was also in stellar form in the Women's Super League, compiling 421 runs at an astounding strike rate of 174.68.

Rashid Khan bagged the Leading T20 Cricketer of the Year. The Afghanistan spinner plucked 21 scalps in the Indian Premier League 2018. He was also in superb form in T20Is, finishing with 22 wickets at an average of 8.68 for Afghanistan last year.

Meanwhile, alongside Kohli, Beaumont, Curran, Burns, and Buttler were included in the Five Wisden Cricketers of the Year. Beaumont, the England opener, compiled 452 and 430 runs in ODIs and T20Is. She also finished with 198 runs for Southern Vipers in the Women's Super League. Burns, the Surrey opener, accrued 1359 runs at an average of 64.71 in the County Championship. He crunched four hundred during the course of the County season, and also played a key role in helping Surrey win their first Championship title after 16 years. Subsequently, Burns was picked for the Test tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies.

Buttler, the wicketkeeper-batsman, had a breakthrough year in Test cricket, evidenced by the 760 runs he accumulated at an average of 44.70 in 2018. He also cracked his maiden Test hundred against India at Trent Bridge. The enterprising batsman also continued to make waves in limited overs cricket and averaged over 50 in ODIs in the year gone by. Curran, the younger brother of Tom, also took his game to an elevated level, finishing with 272 runs and 11 wickets in his debut Test series versus India. The promising all-rounder was also named the Player of the Series.

The criteria for Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year is based mainly on their "influence on the previous English season". Wisden has been listing out Cricketers of the Year since 1889.

India World Cup squad to be announced on April 15 in Mumbai

India's 15-member squad for the ICC World Cup will be selected on April 15 in Mumbai.

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) along with office bearers decided on the date during a meeting on Monday.

The last date for announcing the World Cup squads is April 23 but BCCI has decided to announce it eight days prior to the scheduled day.

The World Cup will be starting on May 30 in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, the BCCI will be getting Rs 2.09 crore from Cricket Australia after reconciliation of accounts for the past 10 years.

"There have been discussions on accounts settlements over all the last bilateral series between India and Australia. We are supposed to get Rs 2.09 crore. The discussions are still on. The office bearers will again meet the CoA on April 20," a BCCI official told.


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