Mon, 20 May 2019

IPL Central: Kieron Pollard fined for showing dissent

ESPNCricInfo
13 May 2019, 16:42 GMT+10

Thank you, skipper! All the best for the @icc #CWC19! #HallaBol pic.twitter.com/m1rjBaAvF1

Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) May 1, 2019

April 30

Sunrisers say goodbye to Warner

Sunrisers Hyderabad bolstered their chances of a top-four finish with a 45-run win against Kings XI Punjab in Hyderabad on Monday. They also bid farewell to one of the stars of this season - David Warner. Warner, along with other Australian World Cup squad members playing in the IPL, will return home to prepare for the showpiece event.

Warner had a phenomenal season, scoring 692 runs, and his 81 against Kings XI was his eighth half-century of the tournament in 12 innings, to go with his century against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The celebrations were quiet, as Warner was due to leave soon after the game ended, but he did advise his team-mates to stay humble and to "keep putting your best foot forward". And, in an Instagram post, he thanked the team for the support over the last year, when he was banned after being found guilty of ball-tampering at Newlands.

April 28

Rohit Sharma fined for breaching Code of Conduct

Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma was fined 15 percent of his match fee following their defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday. Rohit accepted the sanction for a breach of section 2.2 of the IPL's Code of Conduct, which pertains to conduct that brings the game into disrepute. There was no official confirmation of the incident that led to the fine, but Rohit's reaction after being given out - wherein he tapped his bat into the stumps at the non-striker's end as he walked by the umpire - is believed to be the offence. Rohit was given out lbw and was visibly displeased when the review showed that the impact was umpire's call.

This is Rohit's second sanction of the season, the previous one being a INR 12 lakh (approx. $17,300) fine for slow over-rate.

Ashok Dinda hits back at RCB for 'irresponsible' tweet

Ashok Dinda has taken more than 400 first-class wickets, and has played 22 limited-overs games for India, but fans have tended to associate him with a tendency to bowl expensive spells in the IPL. Even though he hasn't featured in the IPL since 2017, his name continues to ring out in social media, and trolls on Twitter have lately been welcoming bowlers to the "Dinda Academy" whenever they have leaked runs in the death overs.

This not unusual tale of tasteless trolling, however, took an unexpected turn when Royal Challengers Bangalore, one of the five IPL teams Dinda has played for, joined in the Dinda-baiting. Umesh Yadav had been a regular target of Dinda comparisons on Twitter, and Royal Challengers' official handle tweeted "Dinda Academy? What's that?" when the fast bowler picked up three wickets against Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday night.

The tweet disappeared, and an apology followed.

But the damage was done, and on Sunday Dinda responded, calling out Royal Challengers for being "irresponsible".

April 27

The straighter ball is my strength - Krunal Pandya

After bowling a stifling spell of 3-0-7-2 on a raging turner against Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians allrounder Krunal Pandya has revealed that his strength is in fact the straighter ball.

Krunal's first wicket was of Ambati Rayudu, who played for the turn in the fifth over but the delivery Krunal bowled from around the wicket went straight with the arm and knocked the top of middle and leg stumps.

"You have to remember, I spin the ball but that [one] I didn't," Krunal told his brother Hardik Pandya on iplt20.com. "The straighter ball that I bowl, that's my strength. Just before that second ball, that ball spun, so I guess that was there at the back of his (Rayudu's) mind that the ball will spin but that ball just went with the arm.

"On this wicket, I was trying to bowl back of length because I knew the wicket is helping me. I was just trying to bowl in right areas and the wicket was helping me because some of them were spinning and some of them went straight."

Krunal added that he relished bowling on the turning track at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. "Most of the games you play at Wankhede, and suddenly when you see these kind of wickets, you feel happy about it, that it will help," he said.

April 26

Steven Smith is known to be nimble enough on the cricket pitch but in a viral video doing the rounds of social media, the Rajasthan Royals captain seems to be quite at ease with his moves off the field too. A clip, released by one of the telecom companies that also sponsors the Royals franchise, has Smith dancing alongside team-mates Ajinkya Rahane and Ben Stokes. If Royals ever hold a dance-off to decide on their captain, we know who would win. An ESPNcricinfo staffer was quick to also point out that it was the most use Smith had made of his operated-on elbow since coming to the IPL.

April 25

Dale Steyn ruled out of remainder of the IPL

South Africa and Royal Challengers Bangalore fast bowler Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the remainder of the IPL with "inflammation in his shoulder". Steyn had missed Royal Challengers' match against Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday night with what captain Virat Kohli called a "niggle" at the toss, but it has now emerged that the bowler cannot take any more part in the tournament.

"Dale Steyn has been prescribed with ample rest due to inflammation in his shoulder. On account of state of his health, Dale will not be available to take part further in the ongoing season of IPL," Sanjeev Churiwala, chairman of Royal Challengers said. "The team will deeply miss his energy and presence around. We wish him a speedy recovery and all the luck for all future endeavours."

Royal Challengers won both the matches Steyn played for them as he took two wickets each against Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings. Steyn himself was an injury replacement for Royal Challengers after Nathan Coulter-Nile pulled out of the tournament with a stiff back.

Steyn had been named in South Africa's 15-man squad for the World Cup but it is unclear yet how much time he will take to recover.

April 23

South African fast bowler Beuran Hendricks has replaced Alzarri Joseph, the injured West Indies quick, in the Mumbai Indians squad for the remainder of the IPL.

Joseph, who was picked as a replacement for Adam Milne, was ruled out of the tournament after he dislocated his right arm and suffered a tear while fielding in a match against Rajasthan Royals earlier this month. Joseph's maiden IPL stint had lasted a week - he returned an IPL record 6 for 12 on debut against Sunrisers Hyderabad, but went wicketless in the next two matches, even conceding 53 off four overs against Royals.

Hendricks, who was part of the South Africa side for the limited-overs home series against Pakistan recently, will join Mumbai for a second IPL stint. He had been a part of the Kings XI Punjab squad in the 2014 and 2015 editions.

Mumbai, who are third on the points table, will play their next match against Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk on Friday.

KKR give Karthik and Uthappa time off to find rhythm

Teams have their own methods of dealing with pressure and hard losses. In the case of Kolkata Knight Riders, who find their season unravelling with a series of defeats, a handful of players have been given time off to regroup. Five of them, including captain Dinesh Karthik and senior batsman Robin Uthappa, decided to train in Mumbai under the watch of Abhishek Nayar, mentor of the Knight Riders' academy. The other three players in the group were batsman Nikhil Naik and pacers Shrikant Mundhe and Prithvi Raj.

Knight Riders, who have suffered five consecutive defeats, are languishing in the bottom half of the IPL 2019 table and the lack of runs from Karthik and Uthappa have added to their problems. Uthappa has scored 220 runs from nine matches, including a fifty, at 31.42 and a strike rate of 119.56. Karthik, meanwhile, has a tally of 117 runs after ten matches with only one fifty. Naik and Raj have played one match each this season, while Mundhe has been on the bench all along.

The players will join the team on Wednesday in Kolkata, a day before the home match against Rajasthan Royals.

Kane Williamson out of Super Kings clash

Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson has returned to New Zealand following the death of his grandmother and will not be available for the side's clash against Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk on Tuesday. He is likely to rejoin the squad ahead of Sunrisers' next match against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on April 27.

In his absence, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is set to take over captaincy again. Bhuvneshwar had led the side in five games earlier this season after Williamson had been unavailable due to a shoulder injury.

Williamson's return to action coincided with Sunrisers snapping their three-match losing streak against Super Kings in Hyderabad last week. Sunrisers went on to win their next game too, against Kolkata Knight Riders at home. They are currently fourth on the points table, with five wins in nine games.

Mohammad Nabi or Shakib Al Hasan is likely to replace Williamson on a sluggish Chepauk track and bolster a spin attack that already includes Rashid Khan and Shahbaz Nadeem.

April 22

#10YearChallenge for Kohli and Steyn

As soon as Dale Steyn bowled Suresh Raina for a first-ball duck with a searing yorker on Sunday evening, the fast bowler ran to his Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli and picked him up in celebration. It was a familiar sight - Steyn and Kohli celebrating in Royal Challengers colours - and gave the two a rush of nostalgia after nearly 10 years.

Kohli acknowledged the #10YearChallenge post of the two of them being shared on social media: "I want everyone to look at this - me and Dale Steyn on the left in 2010 and me and Dale Steyn on the right in 2019," Kohli said on iplt20.com.

"Feels amazing to be able to celebrate with this man after 10 years. And we would never have thought after parting ways in 2010 doing the same thing in Chinnaswamy all over again."

Steyn responded to Kohli saying: "It's fantastic [to be back at RCB]. That photo, you're right, it brings back some good memories, it's nostalgic."

April 21

Ashwin fined for Kings XI's slow over-rate

Despite all the concern around IPL games dragging on too long this season, the problem persists, and Kings XI Punjab's R Aswhin is the latest to be fined for the same. He was fined INR 12 lakh (USD 17000 approx) following his side's defeat to Delhi Capitals. Kings XI had to bowl second after losing the toss, and the dew did not help their cause.

This IPL season over rates have been put in focus with several matches spanning more than four hours. As per the IPL playing conditions, a match needs to be over in roughly 200 minutes. Royal Challengers Bangalore's AB de Villiers was the latest to speak out against flagging over rates, suggesting a reduction in the innings break from 20 minutes to 10 minutes could be the way to hurry teams along.

April 19

Kings XI's Henriques out 'for a period of time'

The injury to Moises Henriques, during warm-ups before what was to be his first match of the season, has implications beyond just that match. Henriques is unlikely to return to the field anytime soon, and Kings XI Punjab can't even get a replacement because the injury took place in the second half of the tournament.

While Henriques is not yet ruled out of the rest of the IPL, he is out "for a period of time".

"Moises Henriques obviously injured himself after being named in the side a couple of days ago," Kings XI coach Mike Hesson said on the eve of their game against Delhi Capitals in Delhi. "His injury is going to rule him out for a period of time. So that's unfortunate."

No replacement either, because "You can't have a replacement after seven games through injury. So there will be no replacement sought."

Kings XI are struggling with a spate in fitness issues, the prime one right now being Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who injured his shoulder when diving during their last match, but they were hopeful he would play the game on Saturday. "Mujeeb has made good progress," Hesson said. "He is certainly not in as much pain as he was a couple of nights ago. So he will likely train with us today and we will make a decision after that."

The injury concerns don't end there. Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy has been out with a broken finger for a while now. They can get an Indian replacement for Varun if they want, but they are unlikely to press for that. "CV Varun has been out for a long time for injury," Hesson said. "We are hoping that everybody will be able to make a contribution during the rest of the IPL."

April 18

Manage IPL workloads smartly - Karthik to World Cup-bound players

Dinesh Karthik, the Kolkata Knight Riders captain and India's designated back-up wicketkeeper for the 2019 World Cup, believes it's imperative for the tournament-bound squad members to focus on their workloads and fitness between IPL games - and not during them.

Ahead of Knight Riders' game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Karthik said that India's squad members should maintain their fitness levels by keeping an eye on their workout schedules between games, and not pick and choose matches to play during the rest of the IPL.

"In my books, I don't think you should leave it to the players to pick and choose IPL matches," Karthik said. "How I see it is, it's not the matches that are the problem. Bowlers are delivering only four overs, and batsmen are facing only 25-30 balls and fielding.

"But what's key to it is the time between two games. Like travel, recovery time, hitting the gym or what you're putting in your mouth."

Ashish Nehra, the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling coach, also said that it would be wrong to assume that World Cup-bound players wouldn't give their 100% in the field in fear of picking up injuries.

"Hold themselves back [in the IPL]? That would be wrong thinking," Nehra said. "I don't think any international cricketer will do that. When you're playing the IPL, this is international cricket only. If ball is there, players will dive. This debate is always there, but what's the guarantee that you don't get injured in the IPL but pick up an injury two days before the first World Cup game? "

Pant will play 'at least three World Cups' - Ponting

Ricky Ponting is "surprised" that wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant has not been picked in India's 15-man squad for the World Cup. Ponting believes that Pant, whom he shares a dressing room with at the IPL for Delhi Capitals, will, however, go on to play "at least three World Cups."

"Yes, I was surprised when he was left out of the Indian squad," Ponting said. "One thing we know about Indian cricket is that there is a lot of depth in batting and this time Rishabh has missed out. Knowing what he is like and the talent he has, I would be surprised if he doesn't play in at least three World Cups before his career is over."

When asked if Pant could have been left out because he throws away starts or doesn't show enough patience, Ponting said: "I don't think he's impatient, he is a very smart player. I think he sums up situations and conditions really well. But they obviously have their reasons for not picking him and I am not going to comment on that."

Tahir and Rashid reveal reasons behind celebrations

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Rashid Khan and Chennai Super Kings' Imran Tahir are famous not just for their googlies, but also for their trademark celebrations. The legspinning duo caught up following Sunrisers' win in Hyderabad to discuss each other's celebrations.

"You play against world-class players and perform well, it gives me happiness," Tahir told Rashid on iplt20.com. "So I show my happiness with that celebration. Neither my family nor I know what I do with that celebration."

Meanwhile Rashid, who is known for his unique index finger-spinning celebration, revealed why it was not on display after he dismissed Suresh Raina and Kedar Jadhav.

"If it's bowled or caught behind then I do that celebration," Rashid said. "I did not get the chance today as both the wickets were off reviews. There was a 50-50 chance so I couldn't do the celebration. But I always try to celebrate that way every time I get a wicket because my nephews like it and they ask me to do that celebration."

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.

---twitter---

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:

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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.

---twitter---

"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:

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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.

---twitter---Michael Phelps gets a taste of cricket

Michael Phelps, he of 23 Olympic Games gold medals, dropped in at the Delhi Capitals camp for an interactive session with the players on Wednesday. They chatted, played a bit of cricket, and had fun together.

Rishabh Pant was seen giving Phelps a crash course on wielding the willow, but while Phelps did get a bit of an idea of the game, cricket might not be the next big thing in his life.

"I don't think cricket is my next sport, but I loved seeing the match with the Delhi Capitals yesterday. It was nice to see how excited the crowd was, and to see how the players shift when there is a change of ends, or a dismissal," Phelps said. "I loved watching the sixes yesterday, and definitely today has been about getting a couple of tips from the boys, starting with how to hold a bat. So I'm sure I will be better prepared to play cricket when I visit India next."

When he does, he has home at Pant's - "He is most welcome to stay at my place for as long as he wants, where I can teach him how to play the sport".

Williamson - great footwork, with two left feet

Move over Champion, Gangnam, Sprinkler and Naagin - this is the cricket celebration dance we want: uncoordinated, non-confrontational, and totally awesome. Even Che Pujara could get it right. Kane Williamson shows you can have great footwork with two left feet, during an ad shoot for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

---twitter---Warn first, then 'the bowler can do what he likes' - David Gower

David Gower, like many other prominent names from the game over the past couple of days, has waded into the mankading debate. He wouldn't have done it and would have dissuaded his bowler from doing it if he was the captain, Gower said, but felt that while R Ashwin would regret running Jos Buttler out backing up in an IPL 2019 game, the bowler's reputation wouldn't be damaged.

Referencing the ball-tampering scandal that saw Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft banned last year, Gower pointed out that cricketers had done a lot worse than mankad a batsman, a legal manner of dismissing a batsman but considered unsporting in many quarters.

"I'd tell the umpire to let it go that time," Gower told Kolkata's Telegraph on how he would have approached the situation as captain. "Indeed, I'd be tempted to ask the bowler: Is this how we should be playing the game? I'd ask my bowler to give the batsman a warning and, if there was repeat, tell him he'd be free to do a mankad.

"Personally, I think Ashwin will regret what he has done... I do understand that the law allows it, but if you take that to the extreme, you can run out an entire team in the space of ten balls. What cricket would that be? If a bowler feels a batsman is trying to take advantage, a warning from him would be treated as courtesy. After that, the bowler can do what he likes."

March 26

Bumrah turns up for training, but doesn't bowl

He did not bowl, but by just turning up at Mumbai Indians' training session in Bangalore on Tuesday, Jasprit Bumrah has put to rest any fears of a serious shoulder injury he picked in the first match on Sunday. Further evidence that his shoulder was fine came after Bumrah took part in the fielding drills towards the end of the training session.

Immediately upon arriving at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, where Mumbai will play Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday, Bumrah had a lengthy chat with hosts and India captain Virat Kohli. The pair was soon joined by former India fast bowler Zaheer Khan, who is Mumbai's director of cricket this season. Later, Bumrah also spent time speaking with Royal Challengers' assistant coach Ashish Nehra.

---twitter---

In Mumbai's season opener against Delhi Capitals on Sunday, Bumrah fell awkwardly on his left shoulder while attempting to field a ball on the follow-through. Further scans and assessment proved the injury was an impact one and not serious. The same has been conveyed to the Indian selectors and it is understood that there are no instructions from them or the BCCI to Mumbai asking to exercise any precaution in terms of Bumrah's workload.

It remains to be seen whether Mumbai would field Bumrah in Thursday's match. Things are likely to be more clear during training on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Bumrah did not throw over-arm, but seemed comfortable with his movements otherwise.

March 25

'300 push-ups every two days' - the secret to Russell's recovery

If there were any fears about Andre Russell's match-fitness, he allayed them with a stunning 49 not out in 19 balls in Kolkata Knight Riders' six-wicket win in their IPL 2019 opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Russell has had his problems with his fitness of late - a knee injury had been troubling him - but he looked in fine fettle at Eden Gardens, first with the ball and then, with 53 needed in the last three overs of the chase, he went on a boundary-hitting spree, slamming four fours and four sixes to swing the game.

The secret to his recovery? "While I was home, I was doing 300 push-ups every two days, and that was something interesting. As you can see, the push-ups help a lot " he told team-mate Robin Uthappa after the game, flexing his biceps for effect.

---twitter---

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.

---twitter---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

---divapp---

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

---twitter---

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.

---twitter---

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 Su

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