Ahead of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League where it will return as the official sponsor after an unceremonious departure last year, the smartphone brand Vivo has appointed Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador.
Kohli, who will be leading the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the upcoming edition of the league has been roped in to propagate awareness and promotion launch of Vivo's upcoming product.
Notably, Vivo had withdrawn its name from the sponsorship of the IPL last year in the wake of rising anti-China sentiments in the country following a deadly clash between the armies of two nations resulting in 20 casualties in India.
After Vivo’s pullout from the league, the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) had to accept sponsorship worth well below the price Vivo was offering.
Fantasy sports company Dream 11 sealed the deal with the BCCI for one edition and before the auction of the 14the edition, BCCI made it clear that Vivo will be returning as the principal sponsor of the cash-rich league.
The move is likely to enrage Virat Kohli and Indian cricket fans as India and China—the country of Vivo’s origin are still at loggerheads at the border. However, the return of Vivo as the sponsor of the league and Kohli singing up for the smartphone company serves as a crucial reminder that the profits the game earns for the players and the boards involved overweigh every other aspect in the longer run.
Umpire Simon Taufel has said that the semi-final between India and Pakistan in the World Cup 2011 in Mohali was like a final in itself. "The semi-final in Mohali was certainly a wonderful occasion and in a lot of ways, it was a final in itself. It seemed like the whole world was watching us, it seemed like the whole world had their private jets parked at Chandigarh Airport," Taufel told ICC. This was the fifth occasion when India and Pakistan were locking horns with each other in a ODI World Cup. They later played against each other in 2015 and 2019 editions as well. India have a 100% win record against Pakistan in the World Cups. The MS Dhoni-led side defeated Pakistan in the semi-final and marched into the title clash to face Sri Lanka in Mumbai. The hosts beat the Lankan Lions to win the World Cup after 28 years. India had batted first against Pakistan in the semis and managed to score 260/9 in 50 overs. Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar top-scored for the team with 85 while Suresh Raina chipped in with 36 in the later part of the innings. For Pakistan, it was Wahab Riaz who was the pick of the bowlers as he scalped a fifer during the course. The home side later bundled out Pakistan for 231 to win the match by 29 runs. This was the third instance when India had made a place for themselves in the final of a ODI World Cup. They did it in 1983 and went on to win the tournament after beating West Indies under the captaincy of Kapil Dev. The second time India registered a place in a World Cup final was in 2003 under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly. The Men in Blue though suffered a defeat in the final against Australia.
Former Kolkata Knight Riders skipper and currently an integral part of the leadership group, Dinesh Karthik is highly impressed by Harbhajan Singh’s work ethics in the lead up to the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League and feels that the veteran cricketer will do a great job for the two-time champions in the upcoming edition of the tournament. The tweaker was snapped up by the Kolkata Knight Riders in the mini-auction in February for his base price of Rs 2 crores. Without an iota of doubt, KKR has a strong spin department, arguably the best in the tournament. With the likes of Varun Chakravarthy, Shakib Al Hasan, Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine and Pawan Negi in their ranks, the spin department looks a formidable one who has the ability to dismantle any batting line-up in the competition. "Picking him I think wasn't easy, considering that he has been around for so long. But the amount of interest and intensity he has shown in the last one week is just fabulous. He has been coming to practise sessions early, much ahead of all other players! And he has been doing it consistently! I think he is a different man now from whatever little I have seen of him this week," Karthik was quoted as saying during an interview with the KKR official website. "Even in a practice game that starts at 7 PM, he had come at 4 O'clock! He was batting before that, he bowled to Shakib Al Hasan and Eoin Morgan and then did his stretching again before getting into the practice game. He is bowling in the match and also fielding all 20 overs. That's about as much as you can ask for from a man of his stature! He has achieved everything. Yet to show this kind of interest at this stage of his career speaks volumes of him as a character. I am sure he will do a great job for KKR," he further added. Harbhajan Singh has a love affair with Kolkata and the Eden Gardens. The iconic stadium has been a happy hunting ground for the spin wizard. KKR won’t play any matches at the Eden Gardens but the tag of Kolkata will surely keep Harbhajan in a good space of mind in the twilight of his career. Meanwhile, KKR will play their first match on Sunday against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai where the spinners always tend to make a big impact.
Pakistan have brought in wrist spinner Zahid Mahmood as the replacement for Shadab Khan for the T20I series against Zimbabwe. Shadab Khan had injured his toe during batting in the second ODI against South Africa. Apart from Zahid Mahmood’s selection, Pakistan team management under the leadership of skipper Babar Azam and coach Misbah ul Haq has also rewarded Fakhar Zaman for his explosive batting in the second ODI. He has been added to the T20I squad for the series against South Africa and Zimbabwe. Earlier, he was named only in the squad for the ODI series against South Africa and as per the statement released by the PCB, both these changes were required by the team management and approved by the national selection committee. The T20I series against South Africa has been scheduled to be played from April 10 to April 16 which will be followed by their tour of Zimbabwe for a three-match long T20 series and two-match long Test series against the hosts. Pakistan won the first game of the ODI series against South Africa in Centurion while faced a defeat in the second ODI in Johannesburg albeit Fakhar Zaman gave them hope of an unlikely win with a brilliant 193.
T Natarajan has gone strength to strength with each game he plays and his most potent weapon against aggressive batsmen has been yorkers. He burst onto the scenes after a successful stint with the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last edition of the Indian Premier League. He had troubled greats of the game such as AB de Villiers and MS Dhoni who have been known for their belligerence in the latter half of the innings. In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Natarajan has recalled the events leading up to and after the wicket ball of MS Dhoni. He said that Dhoni was severe on one delivery that was pitched in his arc, but he bounced back strongly to dismiss him on the next ball. Natarajan also recalled the conversation he had with the CSK skipper Dhoni after the end of the game and the suggestions he got from him. The left-arm seamer said that Dhoni encouraged him that with the experience he will learn more and more crafts while using cutters and slower variations will bring rewards to him in the shortest format of the game. “I pitched one in the slot and he hit me for a big six - 102 metres or something. The next ball I got his wicket - I was just thinking about that previous ball. After coming back to the dressing room, though, I was happy. After finishing the match, I also had a chat with him. Speaking to somebody like Dhoni itself is a big thing. He spoke to me about fitness and encouraged me, saying that I will keep getting better with experience. He said, use slow bouncers, cutters, and variations like that. It has been useful for me,” Natarajan told ESPNcricinfo. Natarajan debuted in the last edition of the IPL for the Sunrisers and was one of the find of the season for the franchise that was missing their very important member in Bhuvneshwar Kumar. His excellent death bowling and control over yorkers fetched him a place in the Indian T20I team, followed by spots in both the ODI and Test team on the tour of Australia.