Wed, 23 Oct 2019

IPL Central: Dale Steyn ruled out of remainder of IPL

ESPNCricInfo
25 Apr 2019, 22:42 GMT+10

Watch on as Rashid divulges an insider secret! Interview by @28anand. #SRHvCSK

Full video - https://t.co/Fm7c0s5dHQ pic.twitter.com/LFDN5s9yvo

IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 18, 2019

April 17

BCCI ombudsman issues summons to Sourav Ganguly

Justice DK Jain, the BCCI ombudsman, has asked Sourav Ganguly to appear before him on April 20 for a hearing on the alleged conflict of interest matter that cropped up when Ganguly, the president of Cricket Association of Bengal, took up an advisory role with IPL side Delhi Capitals for the ongoing season.

The Delhi franchise will host Kings XI Punjab in the capital the same evening.

Shortly after three West Bengal residents - Ranjit Seal, Bhaswati Santua and Abhijeet Mukherjee, who have all been summoned as well - wrote to the ombudsman asking how Ganguly could wear multiple hats, ESPNcricinfo had reported that Justice Jain, who also serves as the BCCI's ethics officer, had asked Ganguly for an explanation and Ganguly, in turn, had promised to send his reply by April 7.

Since then, PTI reported, the former India captain has refuted the charges in a written affidavit through his legal counsel.

Although Ganguly's case might not fall under the direct, indirect, tractable or intractable conflicts as defined in the new BCCI constitution, Justice Jain is likely to pay close attention to clause 38 (4), which states that a person cannot hold two positions of the 16 listed simultaneously. The 16 positions include: "any person who is governance, management or employee of a franchisee", and "office bearer of a member (association)".

Ashwin shows off his bhangra moves

It was not just R Ashwin's batting and bowling skills that were on full display on Wednesday night, but also his dancing skills. His Kings XI Punjab team-mates Sam Curran and Chris Gayle had previously impressed the Mohali crowd with their moves, but it was the captain's turn this time, as he broke into an impromptu bhangra to the peppy rhythm of the dhol after his match-winning efforts in Kings XI's 12-run win over Rajasthan Royals.

The Chennai boy decided to ditch the kuthu and go full Punjabi instead:

April 16

Varun Chakravarthy sidelined by injury

Varun Chakravarthy, Kings XI Punjab's mystery spinner who earned 42 times his base price at the auction in December, has been sidelined with a finger injury. A Kings XI statement said it was a finger fracture - though which finger was not specified - that he picked up "during the visit to Chennai earlier in the month". Kings XI played CSK at Chepauk on April 6.

Varun has played just the one game so far in the IPL, and it was a performance he would probably like to forget. He was carted for 25 runs by Kolkata Knight Riders' Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn in his first over in the IPL - a new record.

Kings XI's CEO Satish Menon said the franchise was hoping Varun recovered quickly enough to have a second go this IPL. "It's unfortunate that Varun picked up the injury. But these things happen in cricket," Menon said. "We have great faith in his abilities and we can only hope that he recovers soon."

April 13

Virat Kohli fined for slow over-rate

Royal Challengers Bangalore's first win of the season came with some bitterness for captain Virat Kohli, who was fined INR 12 lakh (approx. $17,300) for maintaining a slow over-rate after putting Kings XI Punjab in to bat on Saturday. It was Kohli's first over-rate offence of the season and the fine was imposed by match referee Prakash Bhatt. Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma were previously fined for their first offences.

A second offence over-rate would result in a fine of INR 24 lakh (approx. $34,600) for the captain and of INR 6 lakh (approx. $8,650) or 25% of the match fee from every other player in the team, whichever is lesser. A third offence will cost the captain INR 30 lakh (approx. $43,370) and a ban from the team's next game, while each player in the XI will be fined INR 12 lakh (approx. $17,300) or 50% of the match fee, whichever is lesser.

J Suchith replaces Harshal Patel at Capitals

Left-arm spinner J Suchith has joined the Delhi Capitals squad as a replacement for Harshal Patel, who had injured his arm and was then ruled out of IPL 2019.

Suchith was part of the title-winning Mumbai Indians side in 2017; he was actually on the field for that game as a substitute fielder and the last ball was hit to him with Rising Pune Supergiant needing four runs to win.

The 25-year old was a regular member of the Karnataka T20 team in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy earlier this year and has a total of 37 wickets from 47 innings in the shortest format, along with an economy rate of 7.26.

De Villiers and RCB looking for 'seventh heaven'

After Royal Challengers Bangalore lost six out of six games in IPL 2019, AB de Villiers said that the side had "ran out of excuses long ago". They now face Kings XI Punjab in Mohali, where the hosts are on a seven-match winning streak. De Villiers, though, was hopeful of a turnaround to give the RCB fans something to cheer about.

"You can criticise our batting, and say we have not been consistent enough," he wrote in his column for the Times of India. "You can criticise our bowling, and say we have not exercised control in critical periods. You can criticise our fielding, and say it has been unquestionably poor.

"Fair enough; at RCB, we ran out of excuses long ago. However, to be fair, no one should question our commitment. "Yes, we have lost six in a row, but we still have eight matches to play; that's eight chances to realise our potential and show what we can do, eight opportunities to put a smile back on the faces of our fantastically loyal supporters.

"In ancient cosmological systems, specifically according to Talmudic and Muslim eschatology (matters dealing with the end of the world), there are seven layers of heaven with the seventh and most exalted being the abode of God and the angels. Hopefully, our seventh match will become our seventh heaven."

April 12

Dale Steyn in the house

Dale Steyn will bolster the bowling reserves of Royal Challengers Bangalore. The South African veteran will replace injured Australian fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile, who is suffering from a stiff back.

Steyn is expected to be available for selection from their ninth league fixture, against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 19. His selection will mark his return to the league after a gap of two seasons - he last played for Gujarat Lions in IPL 2016, turning out in only one match.

He is also set to return to the franchise he played 28 matches for between 2008 and 2010, picking up 27 wickets. Steyn had pulled out of the IPL 2017 auction, as he recovered from a career-threatening shoulder injury, but went unsold in the 2018 and 2019 IPL auctions.

Coulter-Nile had missed the first few weeks of IPL 2019 because of his international commitments, with Australia taking on Pakistan in an ODI series in the UAE. With the ODIs having ended on March 29, he was expected to have joined the Royal Challengers squad in the first week of April - along with team-mates Marcus Stoinis, while Ashton Turner linked up with Rajasthan Royals - but was later expected to join the squad on April 13.

Royal Challengers will hope Steyn can provide a boost to a languishing campaign that has seen them remain winless after six games. The franchise's next match is on April 13, against Kings XI Punjab.

April 11

KKR sign Australia quick Kelly as Nortje's replacement

Kolkata Knight Riders have signed 24-year-old Western Australian fast bowler Matthew Kelly as a replacement for the injured Anrich Nortje.

The right-arm quick has played just 16 first-class matches and five List A games for Western Australia, since making his state debut in 2017. He's also played 12 T20s for Perth Scorchers, where he has taken 19 wickets at an impressive economy of 7.43. He came in for special praise for his death bowling.

Kelly is a bustling fast bowler, who Mark Waugh, the former Australia selector, felt "could do the job for Australia" at the World Cup if any of their first-choice picks didn't recover from injuries. He is expected to link up with Knight Riders ahead of their upcoming home-fixture against Delhi Capitals on Saturday.

April 10

Harshal Patel ruled out of IPL 2019

Harshal Patel, the Delhi Capitals fast bowler, is set to miss the remainder of the 2019 IPL season. ESPNcricinfo understands Harshal has an arm injury.

Harshal has played two games for Capitals this season. He picked up 2 for 40 in the tied match against Kolkata Knight Riders - which Capitals won via the one-over Eliminator - in Delhi, and finished with figures of 0 for 37 in the 14-run defeat to Kings XI Punjab in Mohali.

The 28-year-old Harshal was part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise from 2012 to 2017, and has played for Delhi since the 2018 season.

Is there room for a fit-again Williamson in Sunrisers XI?

A shoulder injury has restricted Kane Williamson to just one appearance in IPL 2019 so far, but he's now fit and available for selection.

Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody's tweets on Tuesday confirmed that both Williamson and Khaleel Ahmed, the paceman, have recovered from their injuries, but that might now create a selection headache for Sunrisers, who have been led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar in Williamson's absence.

David Warner and Jonny Bairstow have done exceedingly well at the top of the batting order, Mohammad Nabi has had a big effect on three of the four games he has turned out in, and Rashid Khan is a sure-starter. Who does Williamson replace then?

A Sunrisers insider agreed that there is a dilemma: "We replaced Shakib [Al Hasan] with Nabi, and Nabi has done well. If Nabi goes out, Shakib comes back. Warner and Bairstow are clicking. We have Rashid. So Williamson has to sit out for team balance."

It could, however, be a blessing in disguise for Williamson, who needs to be fit for the upcoming World Cup. And he will get his chance, as the source confirmed to ESPNcricinfo, because "both Bairstow and Warner will leave by the end of April to join the World Cup teams, so Williamson will play".

Departures and arrivals - Dhoni style

For those complaining about slow over-rates during the IPL and their sleep schedules going off gear, the players don't have it much better. Worse, perhaps. The watching public can switch off after the game and sleep. The players have their post-match meetings, celebrations if you're Chennai Super Kings, and the travel back to the team hotel. And then there might be an early-morning flight out. It's no wonder that players try to catch their forty winks at other times. Even if the bed is the floor of an airport lounge and the pillow a kit bag. And even if you're MS Dhoni.

That's only during departures, though. Because when Dhoni arrives in a new city, this is what he's greeted with.

The city doesn't matter. Dhoni is a hero wherever he goes

April 9

Question mark over Rohit's fitness

Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma had an injury scare ahead of his side's match against Kings XI Punjab. While training on the match eve, at the Wankhede Stadium, Rohit fell on the ground near the square boundary because of what looked like a hamstring or thigh issue with his right leg. He was immediately tended to by the team physio Nitin Patel, before he got up and gingerly walked back to the pavilion with Patel. The injury did not look very serious though; Rohit walked up the stairs to the dressing room without any support.

AB targets fielding in RCB's 'Groundhog Day' season

Royal Challengers Bangalore's six-match losing streak is like Groundhog Day, AB de Villiers says. Writing in the Times of India, he compares RCB's dismal start to the season with the Hollywood film in which Bill Murray, playing a TV weather forecaster, lives the same day repeatedly and is unable to change the outcome even when he knows what's going to happen. "At RCB in the 2019 IPL, for some reason, we are being condemned to live through the same day over and over again; we have played six matches and lost six matches. How? Why?"

He then points to the team's fielding as the weak spot. "After our most recent defeat, at home to Delhi Capitals on Sunday, when we were unable to defend 149 on a slow wicket, I happened to sit next to Gary Kirsten on the bus, as we left the stadium and drove past thousands of our disappointed supporters," de Villiers wrote. "The head coach asked me what I was thinking. I replied: 'More often than not, in cricket, you can assess the state of a team by the way they field. Each player is a batsman or a bowler, and it is understandable that their primary focus is on batting or bowling but every player is also a fielder and, in my view, you need a collective hunger and desire to operate as a strong unit in the field.'

"Maybe that's where we are failing. Our fielding in this tournament has been very poor, and we simply can't afford to be dropping multiple chances in every match. Instead, we must stay positive and stay together..and somehow find a way to get a win and to escape Groundhog Day."

April 8

Chris Lynn's visiting a casino

3.2 Kulkarni to Lynn, FOUR, more luck for KKR! Length ball coming in at the batsman who is cramped for the room, gets an inside edge that hits the leg stump, the stumps light up but the bails don't dislodge, and to added to the misery, this has raced towards the fine leg boundary. Should have been runs, but the umpire signals byes

Chris Lynn should have been out for 13 off 12 in Kolkata Knight Riders' chase of Rajasthan Royals' 139 for 3 on Sunday, but as ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball commentary noted, he survived being 'bowled' because the bails didn't dislodge. And his team even got four runs in the bargain. Lynn ended up with 50 off 32 in what turned out to be a romp, as Knight Riders won by eight wickets with 6.1 overs to spare, but the amazing luck he enjoyed meant the setting for the victory celebrations suggested itself.

"I always like to ride my luck," Lynn told Harry Gurney on iplt20.com. "It is a T20 game and I like to go hard in the first six overs. After I inside edged it, I heard a second noise and I thought, 'He's either going to catch it, or the bail's going to come off'. But I got lucky. I told the umpire, I saw him put up byes, so I went down and he actually changed it. I'm happy to ride that luck. I might actually go to a casino tonight if there's one here!"

Gurney himself was on IPL debut, and it turned out pretty special, with 2 for 25 in four overs, the wickets of Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi, and the Man of the Match award. And just in the afternoon, Gurney had been feeling more than a little nervous.

"I was a little bit nervous at the hotel this afternoon, a few butterflies," he said. "I always am for the first game in any competition I'm playing, but once I arrived at the ground and started warming up, I was fine. Obviously really happy with how it went."

April 7

Alzarri Joseph's 'unbelievable' IPL debut

An injury to Adam Milne had brought Alzarri Joseph into the Mumbai Indians squad, and Lasith Malinga's premature departure to Sri Lanka gave him a spot in the XI against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday. If the build-up to Joseph's IPL debut had a touch of serendipity to it, his performance on the night was nothing short of a fairytale. With returns of 6 for 12 in Hyderabad, the young West Indies quick broke the 11-year-old record for the best figures in the tournament, and set up an unlikely win for his side. He termed it an "unbelievable" experience but did not seem too overwhelmed by the occasion.

"It's [personal milestones] not something I play for, really," Joseph said after the match. "I only play for wins, not the limelight. It's a good feeling, but I want to win this tournament. I couldn't have asked for anything better, so I really cherish this moment."

The right-arm pacer stressed that "the pitch wasn't the easiest to play on," so Mumbai had a chance defending 136. "As long as we got stuck into them, got a few early wickets. We knew we could be in [with a chance]," he said.

Although his six-for included the prize wickets of David Warner - the season's top-scorer was also Joseph's maiden IPL wicket - the in-form Vijay Shankar, and Rashid Khan, it was No. 10 batsman Siddarth Kaul's scalp that Joseph valued most.

"Because that gave us the win," Joseph said. "My aim is to do my best to win games for my team. Not really personal performances but just put my whole effort in for the team."

April 6

"I know I'm special," Andre Russell said, without a hint of immodesty, after his staggering swing-and-smash hit-sixes-for-fun innings took Kolkata Knight Riders to an unlikely win over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Knight Riders are weaving their dreams around their big man, Dre Russ, and now word has reached the Caribbean too, just in time for the World Cup.

April 5

'Trying to play as many helicopter shots as possible' - Rashid

The Sunrisers Hyderabad lower-order batsmen haven't got too many chances this IPL to show what they are capable of - blame David Warner and Jonny Bairstow for that. The only time he got a chance, though, Rashid Khan brought out his big shots - including a helicopter-ish flick over square leg for six off Jofra Archer.

He is still mainly a bowler, he stressed, but if the crowds love the fun shots, why not?

"I love my bowling, but I think I love to play helicopter shots. That is something especially the fans, they love it, they want it in each and every game," Rashid said while chatting with Afghanistan and Sunrisers team-mate Mohammad Nabi on iplt20.com.

"So I am trying to play as many as possible, because you guys [are] loving it. I am working hard on that and so far it's good. Whenever I get a chance and opportunity for the team to do [something] in the batting department, I will always be there and try my best to deliver."

Chris Gayle, Sam Curran, and a 'special moment'

Chris Gayle is one the great match-winners in T20 cricket. He had a niggle the other day, and couldn't take the field against Delhi Capitals. In his place went Sam Curran. Big boots to fill. He didn't quite a do a Gayle - 75 runs in 35 balls, or some such - but he went well, exceedingly well, in fact: 20 runs from 10 balls opening the innings, and then 4 for 11 from 2.2 overs, including a hat-trick.

Gayle marked the big day for the youngster with one from the vault - it was a "special moment" all right.

April 4

Lasith Malinga's whirlwind life

Within 12 hours of representing Mumbai Indians against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium, Lasith Malinga turned up in Kandy to play the Super Four Provincial Limited Over Tournament and needed little time to make an impact. Captaining Galle against Kandy, Malinga scored only 2 with the bat and then went on to hurt Kandy's chase of 256. He scythed through the batting order, bagging the first five wickets to reduce them to 40 for 5. Malinga eventually completed the match with a haul of 7 for 49, leading his side to a 156-run win over Kandy.

On Wednesday night, Malinga took 3 for 34 against Super Kings, removing Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav and Dwayne Bravo to help Mumbai register a 37-run win.

How will Andrew Tye celebrate should Kings XI win the IPL?

Well, he'll drink champagne out of his shoe, of course - much like Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo and other countrymen of his. Read all about it.

Hardik proud of having played helicopter six against Dhoni

Hardik Pandya's unbeaten 25 off 8 balls was instrumental in Mumbai Indians' 37-run win over Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday. One shot that stood out in his blazing knock was a helicoptered six off Dwayne Bravo in the last over of the innings.

In an interview to iplt20.com after the game, Hardik said he had expected Super Kings captain MS Dhoni to say a few words about the shot.

"I have been working on that [helicopter] shot," Hardik said. "After playing that shot, I was kind of proud and was kind of expecting that MS [Dhoni] would come and say, 'Good shot, good shot'.

"I was working a lot on those shots because generally people like to bowl at the stumps to me. It's a shot that's not easy. I have seen MS hitting so much and he's an inspiration and we try to copy lots of shots that he plays. This is one of the shots which I have copied from him and quite happy that it came out well."

In the last two overs of Mumbai's innings, Hardik and Kieron Pollard added 45 to steer the side to 170 for 5, and Hardik acknowledged Pollard was a special cricketer and an "MI legend".

"He [Pollard] is someone who is a special cricketer. He is dear to us, he is a brother to me. He is a match-winner no matter [whether] he is batting, or he is bowling or he is fielding. He contributes. He is not contributing with the bowling because he is not getting the opportunity but I think whenever you put him in the spot, he will deliver and that's why you back him. According to me, he's an MI legend. We changed the game and the things were different from there."

April 3

New Zealand seam-bowling allrounder Scott Kuggeleijn, who was signed by Chennai Super Kings as a replacement for the injured Lungi Ngidi, has arrived in Chennai and is set to be available for the side's back-to-back home fixtures against Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders on April 6 and April 9 respectively.

Kuggeleijn's stronger suit is to hit the deck with the ball, but he can also strike some powerful blows with the bat lower down the order. He recently took 13 wickets in nine games in the Super Smash, New Zealand's domestic T20 competition, in Northern Districts' run to the final.

April 2

Mumbai Indians' pace-bowling resources have received a fresh boost with the arrival of Jason Behrendorff. "Paltan, I'm here Mumbai," announced the Australia left-arm quick on Twitter on Monday evening, having completed his national duties in the UAE a day prior, where he took 3 for 63 in the final fixture of Australia's 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan.

Mumbai had retained Behrendorff ahead of the latest IPL auction although he had missed the entire 2018 season due to a back problem. The franchise had bought Behrendorff in the January 2018 auction for INR 1.5 crore ($ 234,000 approx.), but picked Mitchell McClenaghan two months later as his like-for-like replacement.

Australia's 20-run win in their tour-ender on Sunday was one of the two matches Behrendorff featured in. He had picked 1 for 29 in the third ODI but missed the following game due to a gastro issue.

Dance when you win

Whether you win the match with a hat-trick or not, there's only one way to celebrate your success when you're in Mohali. Sam Curran broke into an impromptu bhangra with Kings XI Punjab co-owner Preity Zinta after his starring role in their dramatic win over Delhi Capitals. England would hope to see similar moves in the Ashes later this year.

April 1

Coulter-Nile, Stoinis and Turner check in

The IPL will welcome a fresh batch of Australians following the completion of the limited-overs series against Pakistan in the UAE.

Nathan Coulter-Nile and Marcus Stoinis will join Royal Challengers Bangalore in Jaipur on Monday evening, ahead of their clash against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday. The addition of the two lends some much-needed firepower to a winless side - Royals have also lost all their games - grappling with selection issues. Stoinis can be used as a floater, while Coulter-Nile adds to the death-bowling options. If selected, they could be up against Ashton Turner, who is set to join Royals for his maiden IPL stint. Turner made everyone sit up and take note of his abilities during his debut ODI series in India last month.

To add to the Royals' woes, their captain Ajinkya Rahane has been fined INR 12 lakh as the side maintained a slow over-rate during their narrow loss to Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk on Sunday. This was Royals' first offence in IPL 2019. Earlier in the tournament, Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma was fined INR 12 lakh for a similar over-rate offence.

Post-match celebrations

With their match against Rajasthan Royals finishing well after midnight on Sunday, Chennai Super Kings had two reasons to celebrate upon returning to their hotel. They had recorded their third straight win in the competition. The results aside, they had a cake-smash party to celebrate Stephen Fleming's 46th birthday. Incidentally, there was another birthday to celebrate too, that of opener M Vijay, who turned 35.

After smearing Royal Challengers Bangalore's bowlers to all parts of Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad during his 56-ball 144, wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow had cake smeared all over his face by his team-mates. Bairstow added 185 with David Warner - the biggest opening stand in the IPL - to set up a 118-run victory. Here's a peek at Sunrisers' post-match revelry:

March 31

It's just over a week since IPL 2019 began, but Kagiso Rabada's Super-Over yorker to Andre Russell has already made a strong claim to being the ball of the season. Sourav Ganguly, the Delhi Capitals mentor, certainly thinks so.

Rabada defended 10 off his Super Over to bowl Delhi Capitals to a win over Kolkata Knight Riders, nailing down ball after ball in the blockhole. The third ball, which zipped under Russell's bat to crash into middle stump, was the best of the lot. Russell came into the Super Over having made 49* (off 19 balls), 48 (17) and 62 (28) in his last three visits to the crease.

"That [yorker to bowl Russell] would probably be the ball of the IPL in a month-and-a-half's time," Ganguly told iplt20.com. "To bowl to Russell, who's been probably in the form of his life, it's unbelievable. Happy to win it. This team needed this win because we didn't have a great season last year. It's a young team, young boys, Prithvi Shaw [who scored 99 in Delhi's chase] was outstanding.

"These sort of wins just change the confidence. Still a long season, just three games old and 11 games to go, but I think this win is more than just a win."

Rohit fined for over-rate offence

As if the loss to Kings XI Punjab wasn't enough, Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma was fined INR 12 lakhs as his side maintained a slow over-rate during their away fixture on Saturday in Mohali. This was Mumbai's first offence this season. The fine was imposed by V Narayan Kutty, the match referee soon after Kings XI Punjab's successful chase of 176. They now have one win and two losses in three matches.

March 30

When Sanju Samson scored an unbeaten 55-ball 102, and Rajasthan Royals put up 198 for 2, it would have been fair to conclude that it wouldn't be Sunrisers Hyderabad's day. Not so, not after David Warner's blazing 37-ball 69 and good hands from Jonny Bairstow and Vijay Shankar.

"You destroyed my day, actually. A hundred was not enough for you, the way you batted, the way you started the innings, we lost the game in the Powerplay. Someone like you, we needed 250 on the board. You're special, actually," Samson - only half in jest - told Warner in an IPLT20.com chat.

Samson and Warner agreed that the Hyderabad pitch was slower at the start, and easier to score on in the second half. But the way Warner went was a lesson for youngsters like Samson on how to go after a big target.

He put the question to the Australian champion, and Warner was happy to share his expertise.

"As a batsman, you try to identify if the ball is going to swing first," Warner said. DK [Dhawal Kulkarni] got one to swing into me, and I got a nice one off my pads. As a batsman, as you know, if you get one to start it's good, and if you get a couple of dots, it can change the momentum.

"Chasing big totals, it can go both ways. You can lose two quick wickets in the six (Powerplay overs), it can get taken away from you. But for us, we got off to a good start, and kept on as a batsman, if the adrenaline is running, you know you're in the mood. For us, it was assessing where we could be after six overs, and from there it was to keep on running hard - it's something we worked hard on, me and Jonny specifically. And from there, it's about playing the long game.

"More? Yes - though it's T20 cricket, not everything has to go up and over," Warner explained. "A lot of people think you just always have to go aerial. But I think good cricket shots, on a wicket like this which is very good - it allows me to play through covers, if it's short of a length, I can pull - the key is to stay as still as you can. And if there's no swing, you have to try and time it well."

March 29

AB de Villiers' kung fu attempt goes wrong

Are you one of those whose jaw occasionally drops watching AB de Villiers on the field as you say: "Is there anything AB cannot do?" Turns out, there is actually something. During a promotional shoot, the RCB batsman almost hit his head with his own shoe while attempting some kung fu moves. And he ended up having a laugh too. What a soleful guy.

Watch it for yourself:

March 28

Like all fast bowlers, Lockie Ferguson is quite eye-catching. But there is one thing that sets him apart: a long twirly moustache, kind of like the ones favoured by 1960s cartoon villains - Dick Dastardly, for example (seriously, they're #MoTwins).

And while Ferguson too has an unquenchable need for speed like Mr Dastardly, he doesn't sport facial hair to be any kind of menacing. It's actually because he supports Movember, an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men's health issues.

"Finally a good question," Ferguson said when he was asked about it. "Big supporter of mental health (issues) in New Zealand. I'm not sure if you have Movember in India but it's a quite a big thing in New Zealand and Australia. We do a lot of support for mental health, sort of speaking out about depression, things like that. So it started with that and then, through that campaign, I said I would grow the ends up and I did and there's been definitely 50-50 on people liking it or not. I mean, personally I quite enjoyed it. Kind of makes me laugh sometimes when I look on the big screen and I see I have a big twirly moustache, so don't take it too seriously, but I enjoy having it."

Remember Mitchell Johnson's Mephistopheles look during the 2013-14 Ashes? Well, it wasn't just to help him scare England batsmen one after another back into the dressing room. It was part of Movember too.

Alzarri Joseph to replace Milne for Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians have received a shot in the arm for their pace attack by naming West Indies quick Alzarri Joseph as replacement for the injured Adam Milne who had been ruled out of the IPL earlier.

Mumbai had been facing issues in their pace department because Lasith Malinga was expected to miss a few matches for them initially, Jasprit Bumrah had injured his left shoulder in their opening match, and Australia's Jason Behrendorff hasn't joined them yet because of the ongoing ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE.

March 27

Ganguly gets the old bat out

Could never quite get enough of Sourav Ganguly's off-side strokeplay? This one's for you, then. Here's the Delhi Capitals' advisor showing them a thing or two at practice, in the lead-up to their game against Kolkata Knight Riders.

Michael Phelps gets a taste of cricket

Find out more here https://t.co/KPuZs95Aby pic.twitter.com/D7Q5JIiSrg

IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) March 25, 2019

It was "a good night out" for Russell, and the Knight Riders, and Russell explained how life for a top-drawer athlete could, sometimes, be anything but fun. Especially with injuries always just around the corner.

"It takes a lot, you know, rehab, you do boring stuff, rubber band, every day you've to be in the bed doing stuff like uhh-uhh, and burn your glutes, burn certain areas, icing, doing certain things, going into plunge pool these things are annoying, but it's just what athletes being professional (have to do). The hard work that we put in behind the scene, you know, it comes out in the middle," he explained.

March 24

Mystery man Varun might have to wait

Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy may not be an immediate starter after all for Kings XI Punjab, even though they have shelled out INR 8.4 crores for him. Head coach Mike Hesson is mildly concerned over an injury he wouldn't reveal - perceived to be a shoulder niggle - and wants to ease the rookie in as the tournament progresses, on surfaces that suit his style.

"Varun's progressing well. He's probably unlikely to play," Hesson said on the eve of the match against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur. "It's this injury he's been carrying. He's coming along nicely, so when we do expose him we'll expose him on a surface where he gets a little bit of an opportunity. He just arrived at the camp, not fully fit. He also hadn't played for Tamil Nadu in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy."

Varun had a breakout season in the Tamil Nadu Premier League last season but grabbed the spotlight at the IPL auctions when he had five franchises bid furiously for him. He last played for Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy match against Hyderabad in November last year and is understood to have skipped the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 because of the injury.

March 22

Pant's bid to get More out of the gloves

Rishabh Pant's outings behind the stumps during the recent home series against Australia were forgettable. But it's unlikely he would himself forget the "Dhoni, Dhoni!" chants from the in-stadium crowds anytime soon. To iron out the lines ahead of IPL 2019, the 21-year-old Delhi Capitals wicketkeeper-batsman turned to the experienced former India gloveman Kiran More, Mumbai Indians' wicket-keeping consultant, on Friday, at the Wankhede Stadium.

Delhi Capitals rope in Samuel Badree

Delhi Capitals have roped in West Indies legsinner Samuel Badree as their spin bowling coach ahead of the IPL season by making the announcement on Friday night. Badree will coach as many as three wristspinners in their squad - Amit Mishra, Sandeep Lamichhane and Rahul Tewatia. Badree, who last played in the CPL in September 2018, joins Ricky Ponting (head coach), Mohammad Kaif (head coach), Pravin Amre (talent scouts) and James Hopes (fast bowling coach) in the support staff. Delhi had also hired Sourav Ganguly as their advisor recently.

The Ashes in Mohali?

What happens when R Ashwin and M Ashwin face off? Not on the cricket pitch, but in a general knowledge quiz. All we can reveal is that Ashwin won.

---twitter---The catch-up before the face-off

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What were the two saying? Take our poll and tell us.

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March 21

The silence of the yorkers

If you're a batsman facing Jasprit Bumrah, you'll have plenty of yorkers to count. It's a moot point whether that'll help you sleep though. Or if it does, whether it will result in nightmares...

---twitter---Charitable gesture by CSK and KXIP

Chennai Super Kings will donate the ticket proceeds of their IPL 2019 opening match to the families of those killed in the Pulwama attack in February. MS Dhoni, who is an honorary lieutenant colonel of the Indian Territorial Army, will present a cheque. The defending champions open their campaign on the opening day - March 23 - against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai.

Meanwhile, Kings XI Punjab have also announced that they will donate Rs 5 lakh to each of the families of the soldiers who were killed.

Warner revels in Holi festivities

David Warner is no stranger to India, having been part of the IPL since 2011. On Thursday, as the country reveled in the holi festivities, Warner went down memory, of a holi special from India many years ago. Warner, who led Sunrisers Hyderabad to their maiden IPL crown in 2016, is set to return to the IPL fold after missing the previous season because of his ban for ball tampering.

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Warner wasn't the only one celebrating.

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March 20

Look who dropped in on Virat Kohli

Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri joined Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli at the IPL camp in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Similarities between Kohli and Chhetri don't end at being captains of their respective Bengaluru teams. Kohli, the most popular cricket name in the country currently, leads India in all three formats and Chhetri, who led the India football team until recently, is the most-capped player and the all-time top goalscorer for India. But the similarities end there. While Bengaluru FC, who won their maiden Indian Super League (ISL) title recently, have won six domestic titles in as many seasons, RCB are yet to win a title and finished poorly in the last two seasons, ending 2018 at sixth place and 2017 at the bottom. Bengaluru fans will desperately hope Chhetri passed on some title-winning tips to Kohli.

Shivam Dube happy to take up finisher's role

Shivam Dube, who was bought for INR 5 crore (USD 694,000) by Royal Challengers Bangalore during the IPL auction last December, is looking forward to playing the finisher's role for his team.

A left-hand batsman, Dube came into the limelight after he hit five successive sixes off Pravin Tambe in a Mumbai T20 League fixture in March last year - a feat he repeated against left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh during Mumbai's Ranji Trophy 2018-19 match against Baroda.

"Ashish [Nehra] bhai and Gary [Kirsten] sir told me I am going to bat at No. 6 or 7," Dube said on Wednesday. "So they are thinking of me as a finisher. They said they can analyse that during practice. So I am prepared for that."

Before the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Dube suffered a lower back injury that kept him out for most of the competition. Dube then spent almost two months at the NCA in Bengaluru, working on his fitness and sharpening his skills.

"I was working a lot on my batting and bowling also [at the NCA]. I was not doing just rehab. Rehab was one part and my practice sessions were another part. I was practising to be at the same level as of IPL players," he said.

CSK have no time for yo-yo tests

The yo-yo test might be mandatory to be part of the Indian team, but Chennai Super Kings have no time for the fitness yardstick. CSK head coach Stephen Fleming said yo-yo tests have "never been" part of their planning because there are loads of other "priorities" to focus on.

"We have enough work to get the guys up to speed in terms of how we want them to play," Fleming said in Chennai on Tuesday. "We can only speak from CSK's perspective. There is an expectation that fitness will be met. We don't spend time policing them because we have other things that we have prioritised."

One of CSK's senior batsman, Ambati Rayudu, failed the yo-yo test last summer and so was dropped from India's limited-overs tour of the UK. Fleming said he understood that the fitness requirements when playing for the country are different to those while playing for a franchise.

"We try and empower the players to make sure that they are in the best shape possible both mentally and physically. That is part of the advantages that we [have] playing for only two months [a year], whereas the national team has concerns for 12 months. So, yup, I expect the guys to do their work so that when they play for India they arrive in peak condition. I don't want it to be labelled that they were underperforming with their fitness when they were with CSK, but our players are very professional with that."

ALSO READ: How yo-yo test became selection standard for India

Narine is 'ready to go'

Sunil Narine has linked up with his Kolkata Knight Riders team-mates after missing the PSL with a finger injury, and Carl Crowe, the team's spin-bowling coach, expects the spinner to be at his best when Knight Riders play their first game, against Sunrisers Hyderabad on March 24 at home.

"He's looking in good shape and ready to go. His performance levels have maintained a high quality - obviously his batting is part of his game as well - but when you modify your action, to have been able to maintain the standards of performance he has done, credit to him," Crowe said.

Narine has been one of the stalwarts for Knight Riders over the years, a mystery spinner who has continued to befuddle batsmen, apart from now also being an opening slugger scoring crucial runs.

"With analysis, everyone's videoing everything you bowl, the batsmen are watching, so we're very aware of that. You might have seen last year, his action changed slightly in terms of hiding the ball, and we're still working with him in terms of staying ahead of the batsman," Crowe said.

"As long as you're spinning the ball both ways, you're creating doubts in the batsman's perspective. The batsmen then have to be reactive rather than proactive. And you have to have some of that individuality in your bowling, whether it's wristspin or fingerspin, I think that's the key to T20 cricket."

Kuldeep's method? Not for Chahal

March 19

Kuldeep Yadav recently told ESPNcricinfo that he doesn't bowl much in the nets during the IPL because he doesn't want to "give away too many clues" to batsmen who will be in the opposition when the IPL ends. But his spin twin Yuzvendra Chahal prefers to do the opposite because bowling to big hitters gives him an insight into the batsmen as well.

"I think mine is a bit opposite. There are videos for everyone to see. If you want to check upon my variations, it is even there in the YouTube," Chahal said in Bengaluru. "When I bowl to big hitters, then I will get a fair idea as to where I should not bowl to such batsmen. I will learn where I should bowl to them."

ALSO READ: 'Can't become a better bowler, if you fear getting hit' - The Kuldeep Yadav interview

Chahal also expected the new, high-scoring pitch at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium would toughen him.

"It's going to be like the 2014-15 wicket, you might see totals of 190 to 200-plus every match," Chahal said. "It's going to be a good challenge, how you will mentally prepare yourself, how you come back in the next match when someone hits you for 40 runs in four overs."

Chahal also felt that RCB were a stronger side than in 2018. "In the last season, we struggled in the middle overs, but you can see here that there are around four to five middle-order batsmen like [Shimron] Hetmyer, Gurkeerat [Singh] and all. So, we can say that we are a stronger side compared to last year."

Five SA players likely for IPL's opening weekend

Three South African players - Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, and Lungi Ngidi - are expected to be available for selection when Chennai Super Kings take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in the season opener on Saturday even though their team is currently playing Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series. Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada should be available for Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals respectively on Sunday.

Four of those five players were named in the starting XI for the first T20I in Cape Town; Ngidi was missing with a side strain which, Mike Haysman on commentary, said wasn't too serious. A press release from CSA on Sunday said all five players were "rested" from the second and third T20Is. David Miller, the only other player in the squad who plays in the IPL, will play the entire series which ends on Sunday. His team, Kings XI Punjab, play their first match on Monday.

March 18

Remember what happened exactly a year ago? Dinesh Karthik walked in with India needing 34 runs in two overs. And walked out with India having won the trophy. Listen to Karthik, reliving that day.

With IPL 2019 around the corner, all eight teams are busy with extensive preparations. There are another eight teams - the marketing gurus in each franchise - who are burning the midnight oil too, driving engagement and innovative campaigns for their respective sides. The Chennai Super Kings' social media team smartly drummed up support with appealing videos on the fandom around MS Dhoni.

Now, it's the turn of Royal Challengers Bangalore, using their the megastar vehicle of AB de Villiers, to drive promotions.

---twitter------twitter---'Dhoni, Dhoni' - Chennai can't get enough of their hero

A stadium packed to capacity, heaving, chanting the name of their hero. MS Dhoni has experienced such fandom for more than a decade in Chennai, where he is treated like a god, the man who has led Chennai Super Kings to three IPL titles.

To experience the joy he brings to his worshippers, watch this video put out by the Super Kings of Dhoni walking out to the middle at Chepauk to what seems like a full house chanting "Dhoni, Dhoni". You should know that Dhoni was just taking part in the team's first full-fledged practice session in Chennai on Sunday. Imagine what will happen when it's the first home match of the season.

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Goosebumps? And here's Dhoni having a spot of fun with his fans.

---twitter---Kuldeep is not scared of getting hit - Chawla

Kuldeep Yadav has emerged as India's first-choice spinner in white-ball formats, and is going to be a key part of India's World Cup 2019 plans. Before that though, he'll be in action for KKR in the IPL. Kuldeep has played a lot of his cricket alongside Piyush Chawla, both in Uttar Pradesh early on and then with KKR, and the legspinner praised the left-arm wristspinner's 'big heart' and skills.

"He is someone 'jiska jigar bahut bada hai' [he has a big heart]. He is not scared of getting hit, which is the most important thing for any spinner - not just wristspinners," Chawla said. "If you get belters (during the World Cup), the responsibility on the wristspinner is more.

"Kuldeep has himself said he is not a 'mystery' spinner. According to me a 'mystery' spinner is just a myth. He is a very skilful bowler, and as the day progresses you just need to make that skill even more powerful, and he's working on that."

Chawla echoed Virat Kohli's words on managing workloads during the IPL keeping the World Cup in mind, saying it was up to individual players. "We all know IPL is also quite a big event. It's one of the biggest leagues happening in the world right now," he said. "Workload - we are all professional cricketers. There is workload on everyone, and somehow you have to manage things on your own because you know your body and how it will react to the workload. Everyone is different. They know when to play and when to take a break."

Shreyas Iyer eyes IPL route to World Cup squad

Delhi Capitals captain Shreyas Iyer is looking to use the IPL to push himself into reckoning for a place in the World Cup side. The 24-year-old Mumbai batsman played six ODIs and six T20Is between November 2017 and February 2018, before losing his place in the India team.

"I have been doing really well in all the formats. And if I perform in the IPL, then they will have to think twice about me," Iyer told the Times of India. "Recently Gagan Khoda (one of the national selectors) came up to me and said I have been playing very well lately. He asked me to maintain consistency and I'll definitely get my chance."

Iyer comes into the IPL in good form. In the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he was the second-highest scorer with 484 runs in ten innings at an average of 60.50 and a strike rate of 152.50.

March 17

Smith, Warner available from first IPL game

Steven Smith and David Warner will be available for selection for their franchises - Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively - from their first IPL games. Although their ball-tampering bans will end on March 28, that is for international cricket. The duo had been banned from IPL 2018, and ESPNcricinfo understands that the IPL ban was only for that season.

Warner and Smith recently reintegrated with their teammates during a short stopover in Dubai.

---twitter------twitter---KKR add KC Cariappa as an injury replacement

After earlier naming Sandeep Warrier in their ranks, Kolkata Knight Riders have added KC Cariappa to fill the gaps left by the injuries to the pace-bowling duo of Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi.

Warrier, who was with Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier, had gone unsold in the auction despite a low base price of INR 20 lakh. He has had an excellent season, though, with 44 wickets in 10 first-class matches for Kerala and then eight wickets in six games, including a hat-trick against Andhra, in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Cariappa, the 24-year-old wristspinner with a bagful of variations, had been a part of the Kolkata set-up in 2015 before being picked up by Kings XI Punjab in 2016.

Kolkata bowling coach Omkar Salvi felt Cariappa had "evolved into a much better bowler, which is why he's here". On Warrier, he said, "Our talent scouts have been watching players throughout and they recommended his name too. We are lucky to have lots of unique and versatile bowlers, there's a lot of variety in our attack."

Space for 'pupporters' at Bangalore's home matches

You might spot a few special 'pupporters' at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru during the IPL this year.

In a bid to make their home matches pet-friendly, to an extent, Royal Challengers Bangalore have created an exclusive lounge at their home base, which will be open to dogs and cats and their humans. There are no tickets for the lounge; instead, for each match, 30 winners of a contest on the franchise's app will be invited along with their pets.

"We have created a zone exclusive for pet-parents to experience a match with their pets. Treats for pets will be available in the customised space. We will also have well-trained people to care for them," an RCB official told the Times of India.

Fans will have access to the stand through a gate normally closed to spectators, and facilities have been put in place with help from the Karnataka State Cricket Association.

March 16

Ponting backs Pant to come good

Rishabh Pant may not have had a great time behind the stumps in the last couple of ODIs against Australia but he has the backing of Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting ahead of the IPL.

"I think it's actually a big job for me and the coaches when he [Pant] comes in, to make him forget what's happened in the last few days," Pointing told the Times of India. "He's probably lucky it happened in the last couple of games. It would have been hard to play all five games under that kind of pressure. Now he's back in a competition where he has dominated in the past. If he can win a couple of games for us then everything will be forgotten. I can't see anyone better than him as a second wicketkeeper in that Indian World Cup squad."

Ponting also said that having Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the batting order would allow them to play a majority of foreign bowlers.

"You have to make sure you get the guys you know a lot about, then slot them into certain roles," Ponting said. "This year we've got Shikhar Dhawan. We needed that really good Indian top-order batsman who averages about 450 runs a season for four-five years. That allows us to play a majority of foreign bowlers. The biggest challenge is to set down a culture: how you will train and prepare. It's hard to do that when most of the overseas players arrive late because of international commitments."

Varun Chakravarthy joins Kings XI Punjab camp after regaining fitness

After being ruled out of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Tamil Nadu mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy is fit again and has joined the Kings XI Punjab camp.

Varun had injured his shoulder while playing for his club Vijay CC in a first division game. He was subsequently ruled out of Tamil Nadu's squad for the group stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and was in with a chance to return for the Super League stage but Tamil Nadu failed to qualify because of their net run rate.

A spinner with seven different variations, Varun was bought by Kings XI for INR 8.4 crore (USD 1.17 million approx) at the auction.

Fans start queueing up in Chennai

At the other end of the country, ticket sales have opened in Chennai for this year's tournament opener between defending champions Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore on March 23. Super Kings had finished the league stage second last season before beating Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first qualifier as well as the final.

With a week left for the opening match, fans have started queuing up already and how.

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Fit again, Hardik joins Mumbai Indians

India allrounder Hardik Pandya has regained full fitness and has joined Mumbai Indians' preparatory camp which started on Tuesday. Hardik had been rested by the Indian team management for the entire limited overs series against Australia due to "lower back stiffness." During the time away from the national team, Pandya was at the NCA in Bengaluru for rehabilitation. On Thursday, Hardik even tweeted a video of him batting at the nets, asking fans who he was trying to imitate.

---twitter---KKR get Warrier; Nagarkoti, Mavi ruled out

Tearaway quick Kamlesh Nagarkoti has been ruled out of the IPL for a second time running, as he's yet to recover from a back injury. The franchise has signed Kerala fast bowler Sandeep Warrier as his replacement.

ALSO READ: Sandeep Warrier's journey from Mumbai to the Kerala Ranji team

Nagarkoti, one of India's key players during the Under-19 World Cup triumph last year, was signed for INR 3.2 crores. He's currently at the NCA, and will need another "two-three months" to fully recover. In his absence, KKR had signed Karnataka seamer Prasidh Krishna last year. He has now been inducted as a permanent member.

Their injury concerns don't end there. Shivam Mavi, also part of the Under-19 World Cup winning team last year, has been ruled out of the ongoing season with a stress fracture in his back. Mavi, who plays for Uttar Pradesh in the domestic circuit, is likely to be out of action for at least six months.

Meanwhile, this will be Warrier's second IPL stint, after being part of Royal Challengers Bangalore for three seasons (2013-15), but couldn't get a game. Warrier, who had set his base price of INR 20 lakhs, went unsold. He played a key role in Kerala's first-class season, picking 44 wickets in 10 matches.

His eight-for in the quarterfinal against Gujarat took Kerala to the semi-final for the first time in the tournament history. He carried his form to the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he picked eight wickets in six matches, including a hat-trick in the game against Andhra in the group stage.

Ganguly roped in by Delhi Capitals as advisor

There were whispers as early as March 2018 that Sourav Ganguly was advising Parth Jindal, the new franchise head, on matters regarding Delhi Capital (formerly Delhi Daredevils). On Thursday, it was announced that Ganguly has been signed as an advisor, although the exact nature of his role is yet unclear. Ganguly was part of KKR's leadership for three seasons, and finished his IPL career with Pune Warriors in 2013.

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