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“Being disciplined before and during IPL is vital for the event’s success”

IPL|: Surinder Khanna, the former Indian wicketkeeper-batsman, who is a member of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council as representative of the Indian Cricketers Association (ICA), is currently in the UAE for the league. Speaking to Gulf News from the Oberoi Hotel last week where he is undergoing the mandatory quarantine, he said: “This is one tournament that the entire cricketing fraternity of the world, especially youngsters, hopes to play for the glamour, fame, and money. This is also a competition where cricket is the theme of a three-hour drama where there is a lot of action happening. In the earlier days, we used to go to the movie theatre for entertainment, but now people come to the ground to get entertained through those brilliant episodes of fielding and catching, power-filled batting, and some great contests. In fact, it is not only the youngsters who enjoy the IPL, even elders have also been taking a liking to it, and by the time the tournament ends, you feel you haven’t had enough of it. The IPL has been designed in such a way that one does not get bored of it....but the feeling of wanting more continues.” Khanna is the first international cricketer to emerge as the hero of the first-ever international match in the UAE. Thirty-six-years ago, when Sharjah Cricket Stadium hosted the first edition of the Asia Cup, he had bagged the man of the tournament award. “It is always nostalgic to come back. It was on a Friday the 13th when we played Pakistan, and I feel proud to have contributed to the victory and bagged the man of the tournament award. I had a great captain in Sunil Gavaskar who gave me the chance to play as the wicketkeeper-batsman, and I am happy I was able to deliver. I have come back here after 36 years in a different role.... as a member of the IPL governing council.” Talking about the absence of spectators for this IPL, Khanna feels that although they may not be allowed to go to the stadium, there is a lot one can learn by watching the greats on television. “We’ve all seen greats like Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and others who have played for a long time and remained at the top. They have mastered certain strokes, but one cannot try to play those strokes right away. One must first learn the basics from a coach. Get the foundation solid, and then build on it slowly but surely. Strokes like the scoop and reverse shots are played by cricketers only after they’ve mastered their basics. It is also good to understand that one must play with the full face of the bat and get technically sound like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, and Jacques Kallis. Don’t try to play like AB De Villiers right away. They all have mastered their techniques and hence can do magic with the bat.” Khanna also revealed how cricket is different now from his playing days, and what it takes to be a winner. “In 50 overs cricket, one has time to recover even if the team has lost three-four wickets. In a T20 format, there is very minimal recovery time since it goes very fast. So one must be at his best throughout. What I have seen over the years is that the side that concedes fewer extras has been able to win matches. Fewer wides and no balls, and combined with good fielding that team can win.” “In our playing days the best fielders were Mohammad Azahurddin, Jonty Rhodes, Kapil Dev, and Herschelle Gibbs; but today there are outstanding fielders in every team. This is because then there was nothing like support staff to back you. We only had a manager and a captain. Now, like in football and rugby, there are many others to help you get to top fitness levels before your next match. There are people who can help you get rid of any pain in your body, remove your fatigue, and get you fit and raring to go. Players like Virat Kohli believe that everyone must be super fit. In our days it was only our performance that mattered, and nothing else. Today it is a 360 degrees change and every player must stay 100 percent fit, both mentally and physically.” With regards to the person who would step into Dhoni’s shoes, Khanna is of the opinion that he should not to be burdened with expectations. “It is a huge shoe to step into. Greats are born and they leave an imprint. A newcomer must not be judged by Dhoni’s standards. Instead, he should be judged by the way he plays and give him time to master his skills and do well at the international level. He should be given time to settle in his job and role. To have that kind of fitness and cricketing acumen and play like Dhoni, and that too for such a long time, after playing and traveling for nearly 250 to 300 days a year isn’t easy. Dhoni did exceedingly well and the fitness standards which he set as a wicketkeeper, captain, and an explosive batsman is remarkable. That would be too much of a burden to put on a new wicketkeeper. But it is important to have an idol. I had Farookh Engineer and Syed Kirmani to look up to. Youngsters of today should learn from the greats and keep themselves motivated.” Khanna has urged one and all to act responsibily to make IPL in the UAE as a success. “England, by hosting West Indies, proved to the cricketing world that one can organise cricket but a certain set of parameters needs to be followed with discipline. One should not break those Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which are helping the league to happen. Even if one person breaks it, he jeopardises the entire tournament and also the lives of his colleague or other team members. So being disciplined during the league is vital.” Complimenting all those who took up the challenge to host IPL in the UAE, Khanna noted, “The BCCI, UAE, and IPL Governing Council, everyone who is involved in this IPL need to be complimented. The broadcasters, franchise owners, and all others have shown tremendous courage in these trying circumstances to ensure that we enjoy 53 days of cricketing action. I pray that all goes well.” - The writer is a veteran cricket journalist who has covered 12 ICC World Cups Surinder Khanna visits Sharjah Stadium after 34 years since he emerged as the hero of the first ever Asia Cup tournament . Picture: K.R. Nayar/Gulf News Indian Cricket Team lead by Sunil Gavaskar arrives at the Dubai Airport for the Asia Cup Cricket at Sharjah - 06/04/1984

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Pogacar’s pedal power: UAE Team Emirates deliver on promises in Tour de France

Dubai: What started as a personal vision and ambition on the shores of China a few years back has today paid dividends across untold global platforms in the world of cycling. Former Italian cyclist Giuseppe Saronni dared to start what is today called the UAE Team Emirates — the latest champions of the Tour de France. IPL 2020 in UAE: Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings in pictures IPL 2020 in UAE: Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Eoin Morgan and David Warner arrive in UAE IPL 2020 in UAE: Fans in Dubai enjoy opener between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings IPL 2020 in UAE: Cool runnings from Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab In August 2016, Saronni set up the team and called it Lampre-Merida. A little later, it was confirmed that its World Team licence was being transferred from CGS Cycling to Chinese company, TJ Sport Consultation, with the team becoming the first Chinese World Tour team starting in 2017. Mauro Gianetti, the former team manager at Saunier Duval-Prodir was announced as the coordinator for the entire project. Saronni later confirmed that he and CGS Cycling would continue to manage the team on behalf of TJ Sport with the bicycles for the team supplied by Italian bike manufacturer, Colnago. Gianetti indicated that the project was being coordinated by the Chinese Government via TJ Sport with involvement from a number of Chinese companies, including Alibaba with the of developing Chinese cycling and riders. But, when UCI, the world governing body for cycling, awarded 17 World Tour licences to teams in November, it announced that TJ Sport’s application was ‘under review’ by its Licensing Commission. As per Saronni, the reason for the delay was that the head of the TJ Sport project, Li Zhiqiang, had fallen seriously ill, which prevented funding for the project from being advanced, forcing him in turn to look at sponsorship elsewhere. Photos: Tadej Pogacar crushes Primoz Roglic to seal Tour de France title Pogacar poised to win Tour de France after shock turnaround UAE Team Emirates’ Pogacar shifts into gear for Tour de France bid In Pictures: UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogacar spot on in Tour de France And that is when the team rebranded as UAE Abu Dhabi with the UCI confirming a new World Tour licence in December. In February 2017, the team announced that Emirates airline had come on board as a naming-rights sponsor to finally be called UAE Team Emirates. The journey had begun. “The new challenge is to represent a whole nation of the UAE, which are strongly interested in promoting cycling and in presenting as a top level sports and cycling hub,” the team had promised at the launch in Abu Dhabi on January 4, 2017. On Sunday, less than three years later, UAE Team Emirates will be left to celebrate perhaps one of the biggest moment in their history and in sporting moments as 21-year-old Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar climbs the podium near the Champs-Elysees to become the youngest winner in more than 100 years of the Tour de France, cycling’s biggest and most famous race. The action unexpectedly unfolded on Saturday when Pogacar dramatically overhauled a 57-second deficit off countryman Primoz Roglic to become not just the toast Slovenia, but of the UAE and the entire cycling world after landing the most famous of cycling’s majors. A truly crowning moment of glory for a team that has been built and constructed into one of the finest.

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Indian Paunch League: Stars pilloried for 'healthy waistlines' in IPL opener

IPL|: New Delhi: Leading cricketers from Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have been slammed for their "healthy waistlines" during the opening match of the Indian Premier League in Abu Dhabi. Some players were returning to professional cricket for the first time in six months after global sport was put on hold amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus-delayed Twenty20 tournament was postponed and then moved to the United Arab Emirates, with India's cricket-crazy fans watching Chennai outplay Mumbai on Saturday on their televisions and mobile phones. Many expressed surprise at seeing top players including Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma, batsman Saurabh Tiwary and Chennai spinner Piyush Chawla sporting a post-lockdown paunch. CSK player Piyush Chawla reacts after taking the wicket of Mumbai Indians Skipper Rohit Sharma. Image Credit: PTI "I have never played more than gully cricket but I am pretty shocked to see some players in the #IPL2020 looking so unfit," former India field hockey captain Viren Rasquinha wrote on Twitter. "I can't think of another physical sport where players at the highest level could cope with these fitness levels." Veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted that there were a "couple of healthy waistlines today". Social media users joked that the cash-rich IPL was now the "India Paunch League". "Indian Paunch League (IPL) looking at all the bulging waistlines..looks like a veterans series match..," one user tweeted. Meanwhile Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni stood out with his bulging biceps on his return to the cricket field after more than a year on the sidelines. The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman, who retired from international cricket last month, last played for India in their semi-final loss to New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup. Fans swooned at their idol's body, with one user tweeting: "Dhoni looks WWE ready".

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IPL 2020 in UAE: Can show potential with bat in death overs, says Sun Risers Hyderabad's Rashid Khan

IPL|: Dubai: Sun Risers Hyderabad all-rounder Rashid Khan on Sunday said that he can give his best performance with the bat in hand during the death overs of an innings. Sun Risers Hyderabad will be taking on Royal Challengers Bangalore in their opening match of IPL 2020 on September 21. The match between both sides will take place at the Dubai International Stadium. "I think I always have the thing in my mind, whenever there are three or four overs left in the innings, I think I can give the best performance with the bat. It depends on how the situation is, when I play the Big Bash, I have been told by the coaching staff as to how I need to go after the 15 overs mark. When you get such a positive response from coach and captain, it is really good," Rashid replied to an ANI query during a virtual press conference on Sunday. "I should not be thinking much about I can bat, I should just focus on what I can do in the entire match, I will try my best to do well for the team," he added. Talking about his battle with Virat Kohli in the upcoming match against RCB, Rashid said: "I think whenever you are bowling to anyone, you are under pressure. Virat is a world-class player in all three formats, I love it when somebody like him is batting against me, it is the best competition and you want it as a bowler, I will enjoy bowling to him, it will be a proud moment bowling to him. As a bowler, I will try to bowl the best deliveries." The 22-year-old spinner also said that he has not developed any new deliveries for the upcoming tournament and his focus would just be to remain consistent for the Hyderabad-based franchise. "I have been working hard on all my deliveries, I haven't developed any new delivery to a 100 per cent so I cannot afford to try new balls in a match like situation, I have been working hard, bringing new balls to a game would be hard for me. I need to be smarter compared to the last few years. The more consistent I bowl, it will help me," said Rashid. "Spinners will be key in this competition as it goes on, wickets might get better for the spinners as the tournament progresses, the grounds are bigger as well and that helps as a spinner. Sharjah is a small ground but the wicket would be good for the spinners," he added. Rashid was last seen in action for the Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020 and he has to come to UAE from a bio-secure bubble. Talking about his extended stay in a bio-secure bubble, Rashid said: "Living in a bubble is something new, it is a requirement, you have to follow rules if you want the tournament to go ahead smoothly, it has been tough as a player, you have to be strong mentally. We are used to it now and we spent 15 days in quarantine when we went to play CPL, luckily we just had six days of quarantine in the UAE, we are happy that cricket is back. We need to focus on what we need to do on the ground. It hopes that bubble life does not stay longer and we go back to normal soon." Lastly, Rashid was quite impressed by the crowd noise technology used by the IPL organisers and the spinner said that it will help players to remain fresh in the middle. "Playing without a crowd was a bit tough in the CPL, I was reminded of club cricket initially, the crowd noise helps you on the ground, the best idea from the IPL organisers has been to have crowd noise to keep players fresh in the middle. The crowd gives you extra energy in the ground but we know they are watching us from television," said Rashid.

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IPL 2020 in UAE: Ajinkya Rahane isn't an automatic selection for Delhi Capitals' playing XI, says Ricky Ponting

IPL|: Dubai: Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting has admitted that right-handed batsman Ajinkya Rahane isn't an automatic selection in the playing XI for the upcoming IPL 2020. Delhi Capitals will be taking on Kings XI Punjab in their opening match of IPL 2020 later today. The match between both sides will take place at the Dubai International Stadium. While speaking about Rahane on InsideSport's "Amstrad Face 2 Face Cricket Series", Ponting said: "Ajinkya isn't an automatic selection but his preparation has been great. I have worked closely with him to improve his T20 batting but I have already had the conversation with him regarding this and as far as the first match goes he is certainly in the mix of things." Delhi Capitals has bolstered their line-up this year with the addition of Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Marcus Stoinis, and Shimron Hetmyer. The side is yet to win the IPL trophy but this year the Shreyas Iyer-led franchise would be looking to go all the way. "We have a very good squad in place and the last season was probably a breakout season for the team with the rebranding and the change of name. The cricket that we played last year was outstanding. The batting side of things especially when it comes to Indian players is much sorted. We have added some players like Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, and Alex Carey as overseas batsmen. Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are, to be honest, our weapons, and Nortje has been incredibly impressive since he has been here and we have added Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane two very experienced Indian players. I am really happy with the squad," Ponting said. "Rishabh Pant knows about his responsibilities but at the same time, he isn't a person you would want to push too hard. I am very hard on him when it comes to the way he goes about his batting and preparations. He is the sort of guy you can't train much he will perform when the situation comes around," he added.Delhi has the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Anrich Nortje, Mohit Sharma in the fast bowling department and the side would be looking to rattle the opposition with pace. "Anrich Nortje has been one of the most impressive fast bowlers since he has arrived and he can ball a variety of deliveries and with Rabada, Ishant Sharma and Mohit Sharma and there haven't been many through the history then closing out death overs than Mohit Sharma, you can also add Keemo Paul to the mix who did a great job for us last year. Marcus Stoinis has been used by Australia to bowl in the death overs and Ashwin we are pretty much covered. We cannot play all of them in one game so the makeup becomes very important so that we have enough options during the power play, middle and death overs," said Ponting.