Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the man in focus across news dailies on Tuesday (February 20) after dishing out impressive performances throughout the tour of South Africa, capped by his maiden Twenty20 International five-wicket haul on Sunday. India’s middle-order woes, however, did not go unnoticed.
In other news, Star India Private Limited bagged the audio-visual production services for the 2018 season of the Indian Premier League, having grabbed the global media rights last year.
Meanwhile, Australia’s pace battery was the topic of discussion ahead of the Test showdown in South Africa from March 1.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar reaping rewards by keeping it simple (The Times of India)
When the time comes for the Indian team to pack their bags for England, their second big challenge in 2018 after this demanding tour of South Africa, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be among the first to board that flight. At 28, few would deserve the opportunity more than the Meerut-born cricketer who has impressed with the ball whenever handed the responsibility.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s Knuckleball: Floats like a butterfly, stings like Bhuvi (The Indian Express)
The knuckleball reached the batsman on the third bounce. Or was it on the fourth? Or did it reach at all? Charl Langeveldt’s first knuckleball-attempt, at the back-end a boring nets session on the eve of a domestic match, was a howler. All he remembers is a collective peel of laughter, even some ridicule and scorn, flung at him from different corners. But the stocky seamer didn’t repress his experimental urge, as he kept practising, and then perfecting, the knuckler in spare time, unbeknownst that one day it could evolve into a vaunted short-form trick.
Despite series gains, India’s middle order lacking: Mohinder Amarnath (The Times of India)
Former India allrounder Mohinder Amarnath, while lauding the Indian team’s landmark first ODI series victory in South Africa, believes that the brittleness of the middle order could cause major worries in a busy season. Writing in his column for TOI, Amarnath assessed India’s tour of South Africa and felt that though the team made history by winning their first ODI series in the country, losing the Test series should hurt given that they are ranked No 1 and went to South Africa hoping to beat the hosts.
Suryakumar Yadav converting promise into performance (The Times of India)
Over the past few years, almost every innings of Suryakumar Yadav seems to mirror the story of his career so far: A blazing start through a few glorious strokes, and then just as you feel he’s on top of the bowling, comes a false stroke which brings an abrupt end to his stay at the crease.
This season, though, the 27-year-old is promising to turn a new leaf, as his impressive run in the Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy (217 runs in eight games @54.25, strike rate of 188.69) and the Vijay Hazare Trophy league stage (295 runs in six games @59.00, with a strike rate of 111.74) for Mumbai reflect. If the talented, yet unpredictable batsman sticks to this new-found consistency, he might even be able to stake a claim for a berth in India’s limited overs middle-order batting, which currently has a ‘vacancy’ board hanging around on its door.
The Indian premier league (IPL) has got more star power. The league broadcaster has bagged the production contract for the league after a direct face-off with img (UK). Star has bagged the rights for one year, with a provision for extension up to three years, for Rs 13.3 crore a year. There were only two bidders; sunset+ vine of England, the third qualified party, did not turn up to participate in the process. The board of control for cricket in India (BCCI) said the production contract will extend to Indian domestic cricket as well.
While England look on powerlessly, Australia will contest the T20 tri-series final against New Zealand on the postage stamp that is Eden Park. Yet simultaneously Australia’s Test team are in South Africa, practising for the four-Test series there, so their national side is playing in two places at once. What better illustration of how over-stretched international cricketers are, and how devalued tournaments are, and how defrauded spectators?
Potent Aussies the perfect practice (Cricket.com.au)
Taking on South Africa’s fearsome fast bowling attack in their own conditions could be the biggest challenge of Mitchell Marsh’s career, but the allrounder says facing Australia’s hostile pace battery in the nets is the ideal preparation.
Australia had their first full training session at the Wanderers on Monday and while the batsmen had the chance to hit a few throwdowns on Sunday in Benoni, yesterday they had to face the fire and brimstone of the visiting speedsters.
Australia selectors facing Meg-a decision (Cricket.com.au)
Australia coach Matthew Mott has promised some “interesting” selections when the ODI and T20I squads for next month’s tour of India are revealed on Wednesday, but the big question remains: Will Meg Lanning play?
Change in Twenty20 skipper up to Steve Smith: David Warner (The Sydney Morning Herald)
David Warner has Australia on the verge of becoming the world’s No.1 ranked Twenty20 team but says he hasn’t spoken to Steve Smith about taking over as the full-time captain. Warner’s success with the T20 side during Smith’s absence has become a topic of intrigue as Australia prepare to face New Zealand in Wednesday night’s tri-series final in Auckland.
When Cecil Rhodes was defining the ideal candidate upon whom to bestow one of his Oxford scholarships, the old imperialist could have had Clive van Ryneveld, a future recipient, in mind: a scholar and a sportsman – dashing centre three-quarter, stylish batsman – of outstanding personal qualities.