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Steyn, Rabada to be fit before World Cup: SA coach Gibson

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Johannesburg: South Africa head coach Ottis Gibson has said that premier fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada are on track to be available for the World Cup slated to be held in England and Wales from May 30.

Rabada, who was one of the stand-out performers in the just-concluded IPL where he picked up 25 wickets in 12 matches for Delhi Capitals, had to return before the playoffs after suffering from a stiff back.

On the other hand, Steyn had come midway into the tournament for the Royal Challengers Bangalore as a replacement player, but he could only last two matches before a shoulder injury forced him to return to South Africa and put doubts over his World Cup participation.

However, now Gibson believes their injuries are “not alarming”.

“There was an issue with KG (Rabada) and there was an issue with Dale, but we feel that those guys are on track,” Gibson was quoted as saying on Tuesday by Sport24.

“There is nothing that people should be alarmed about. We feel that they’re going to make full recoveries and be able to take their place at the World Cup,” he added.

The Proteas head coach also said that there were enough youngsters in the squad who had not been tainted by the past experiences that have haunted this side for two decades when it comes to major tournaments.

“It’s a fresh start for us. We’re going to the World Cup together and it’s my first time with the team,” said Gibson.

“The language that we have been using now is the same that we’ve been using for the last 18 months and it’s one of positivity.

“What’s gone on in the past is gone. We’re not taking any of it into the World Cup with us … we’re going in with it being a new adventure for us. We’ve got a lot of guys who are playing their first World Cup and we want to make it special for them,” he added.

South Africa will face hosts England in the tournament opener on May 30 at The Oval.

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Kohli hails lower-order fightback against NZ in World Cup practice game

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Virat Kohli expects the Indian batting line-up to improve their performance.

London: After the Indian top order failed to live up to the expectations in the warm-up game against New Zealand, skipper Virat Kohli expects his lower-order batsmen to rise to the occasion if a situation arises in the upcoming World Cup.

On Saturday, Kohli’s decision to pose a challenge for his batting lineup led to top-order collapse at Kennington Oval, London.

None of the three opening options – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul – managed to make a mark.

Even Kohli, the number one batter in the world, couldn’t provide much resistance to his struggling team and was cleaned bowed by Colin de Grandhomme at his individual score of 18. After his wicket, India were left reeling at 39 for 4 in the 11th over.

However, Hardik Pandya’s brisk 30 led a brief revival, only for the innings to stutter again until Ravindra Jadeja guided the lower order.

In the absence of Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav, Jadeja top scored with a 50-ball 54 to haul India to 179.

The left-handed all-rounder added 62 with Kuldeep Yadav for the eighth wicket, allowing India to reach the 40-over mark, a prospect that looked unlikely when Trent Boult ran through the top order.

Boult snared a four-fer while James Neesham snared three wickets as the Men in Blue were bundled out in 39.2 overs.

“Very good,” Kohli said of the lower-order contributions at the post-match presentation.

“I mean, the one thing we spoke about in a tournament like the World Cup is, you could easily have your top order out for not too many, so the lower order has to look forward to that and I think Hardik (Pandya) batted really well.

“MS (Dhoni) absorbed the pressure really well and (Ravindra) Jadeja got a few runs as well, so I think from that point of view, we got a lot out of this game, which is what we wanted to. The lower order getting some runs that was the biggest positive.”

The Indian skipper lauded bowlers’ effort and felt that the fielding and catching need to improve.

“We bowled well – they were going at 4, 4.5 per over – and looking at that in isolation we did well. Fielders are going to play a crucial role, half chances will be massive. We’ll have to be precise in all three departments,” said Kohli.

India will now take on Bangladesh in the second warm-up game on May 28 before beginning their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5.

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Jayawardene declines role in Sri Lanka WC team

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Mahela Jayawardene is a unhappy with the state of Sri Lanka cricket.

Colombo: Former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene has declined to play a role in Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign, saying he is disillusioned with the general state of the sport in the island nation.

“I was (invited) but I have several other commitments. More than that, I didn’t understand the role I am expected to play,” Jayawardene was quoted by ESPNcricinfo as telling to the Sunday Times.

“There’s no point in me getting involved tactically, or whatever, if I don’t have a say in the whole structure. The team is selected and everything is done and dusted. There is no room for me to come in and add something.

“I am still happy to contribute in my little way with the management of the team, but nothing to do with the SLC. That’s something I have told myself as well. I just don’t have the appetite to come and work for anybody when I know that it’s not the right place for me.”

Previously, Jayawardene submitted plans to overhaul Sri Lanka’s domestic cricket sructure but all went in vain.

Last year, a committee featuring Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Aravinda de Silva had also submitted a report on Sri Lankan cricket, only to be ignored.

“We created a professional cricketing structure spending eight months,” he said.

“We offered to set it up for them but they rejected it. We did it because we don’t want to lose our cricketers going to Australia and to league cricket in England. We need those experienced players in our system.

“There are some teams in our first class system where the average age is 25, which is sad. When we played, we had so many senior cricketers to guide us. Without them in our system, we cannot build a strong domestic cricket structure. And without doing that, there’s no point in building stadiums.”

Jayawardene also came down heavily on the leadership of Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal, saying some of their decisions were responsible for the chopping in changing in captaincy.

Since Jayawardene retired in 2015 and Mathews took over, Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Chamara Kapugedara and – most-recently – Dimuth Karunaratne have held the reins.

“The only advice (Kumar and I) gave Angelo was not to give in to cricket politics,” Jayawardene said.

“He needs to be a stronger leader, to be with the players and do the right thing. But he gave in to cricket politics. He allowed other people to make decisions and did not stand up for his players. I am being honest.

“I have told him this as well and he accepts it. If he hadn’t give in, we would probably not be in this situation today. Even if I see him today, that’s the only complaint I will have against him.

“The number one rule in Sri Lanka is, if you are the captain, lead by example and do not allow any outsiders coming into that setup. That’s the only way we ran the show and survived. It was unfortunate and it was not easy, either.

“You need to deal with a lot of unwanted elements. But if you are a strong character, that’s something you have to do. I have nothing against him. He is a brilliant cricketer and a wonderful person but he did not handle this situation well.

“He should be the one who is leading this team at the World Cup. He had to give up because it was too much for him. But it was his fault.

“I think (Chandimal) was another victim of cricket politics. In the sense, he was another player like Angelo Mathews who was snared to elements behind the scene and went along with them rather than taking control of the team and being a strong leader,” he added.

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Total Recall: Arjuna helps Sri Lanka hit bullseye in 1996 World Cup

Vimal Kumar

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Sri Lanka defeated Australia in the 1996 World Cup final. Photos: Twitter and Google.

New Delhi: Within 14 years, after getting Test status in 1982, Sri Lanka became the World Champion. No team has done it in past and this feat is unlikely to be surpassed in near future.  A team which had managed to win just 4 matches in the previous 5 World Cups (2 wins came in the 1992 edition alone) did spectacularly well to lift the trophy.

The second World Cup in subcontinent was historic in more than one ways. For the first time, 3 nations were the joint host.

Format: 12 teams were divided in 2 groups with 6 teams in each group. The top 4 from each group qualified for the quarterfinals.
Most interesting match-There was a genuine dearth of tough battles in this edition.

There was not even a single match where margin of defeat was less than 4 runs or 3 wickets. Inarguably, the second semifinal between West Indies and Australia was the most interesting match of the tournament.

First semifinal: In the history of World Cups, this match has got the most dubious distinction of being decided by default.

Final: Sri Lanka’s self-belief during the tournament was staggering and the fact that they chose to field first in a World Cup final spoke volumes-since no team ever had won the cup while chasing. This was the first day-night match on Pakistan soil but Australian batsmen failed to illuminate while batting first as there were just 14 fours and 2 sixes and a target of 242 seemed inadequate to defend.

Aravinda de Silva was the star in the final.

Like the semifinal in Calcutta, the destructive pair of Kaluwithara and Jaysauriya was back in pavilion within 23 runs. Aravinda de Silva rose to the occasion in a way no one ever had in a World Cup final. Besides being the best bowler (3 for 42 in 9 overs) and taking most catches (Jayasuriya also took 2 catch in that match) which would have been suffice to earn him the Man of the Match award, de Silva played an innings of stunning maturity.

It was perhaps fitting that when winning runs were scored two of the giants of Lankan cricket were at the crease.

An unforgettable hundred: Only for the third time a batsman scored a century in the final but for the first time while chasing when pressure is enormous. If Sri Lankans didn’t panic after losing two wickets, it was because the monkish innings (107* runs off 124 balls with 13 fours) played by de Silva.

Most successful batsman: For the first time in the World Cup history, a batsman scored over 500 runs (523 by Tendulkar in 7 matches) in a single edition.

Szchin Tendulkar was the highest run getter in the tournament.

Most accomplished bowler of the tournament was undoubtedly India’s Anil Kumble who got 15 wickets in just 7 matches at an average of 18.73 and at an economy rate of 4.03. Most attacking innings of the World Cup was played by Sanath Jayasuriya against England in the quarterfinal at Faisalabad.

Arjuna Ranatunga holds the record of most attacking innings (75* off 45 balls against Kenya @ a strike rate of 187.50) but it was Jayasuriya’s savagery (82 runs of 44 balls with 13 fours and 3 sixes, strike rate 186.36)) which is still vivid for its sheer annihilation of English team.

Demolition of the mighty: Playing their only 5th ODI, Kenya stunned the two- time World Champion West Indies in Pune. After Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, Kenyan became the third Associate team to beat a Test nation when the West Indians were bowled out for a paltry 93 runs inside 36 overs.

Best bowling show of the tournament: Zimbabwe’s Paul Strang has the best analysis of the tournament with 5 for 21 against Kenya in Patna in 9.4 overs but Shane Warne’s 4 for 36 in a high-profile semifinal against West Indies at Mohali should qualify in this category.

Due to Warne’s sensational spell, West Indies lost their last 8 wickets for just 37 runs. Chasing 208 for their 4th World Cup final match, the Caribbean team was cruising with score at 164 for the loss of just 2 wickets. Warne’s spell is still regarded as one of the best-ever not only in World Cup but in ODI cricket.

Arrival of a genius: (Sanath Jayasuriya) Sanath Jayasuriya debuted in 1989 and already had played 99 ODIs for Sri Lanka with 1 hundred and 9 fifties.

However, a batting average of under 20(19.73) and a strike rate under 75(74.27) were hardly the numbers of a legend.

Jayasuriya made just 2 fifties in 1996 World Cup but his strike rate of 131.54(no one among top 30 run getters reached anywhere near around his strike rate) heralded his true arrival at the international stage. Within a week, Jayasuriya’s savagery ended the international career of Manoj Prabhakar and Phillip DeFreitas.

Rules: For the first time in the World Cups, Third umpire were introduced from this edition.

India at the world Cup-Despite home advantages India never appeared to be a dominant force unlike another co-host Sri Lanka. However, the victory against Pakistan in a pressure cooker quarter final is one of India’s most memorable outings in ODI cricket.

Unfortunately, it was followed by an equally horrendous capitulation in the semifinal against Sri Lanka.  If  Tendulkar scored most runs in the cup (523 runs in 7 matches) which was a world record, none of the other India batsmen were among the top 25 run-getters of the tournament.

Startling fact of the tournament: Australia could score just 8 runs in first 9 overs in a league match against West Indies in Jaipur. Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh bowled six maidens in this phase.

Sanath Jayasuriya was at his destructive best in the tournament.

Do you know?  None of the bowlers from the Champion Sri Lankan team featured in either top 5 or top 10 and not even in top 15 most successful bowlers! Muttiah Muralitharan came at No.17 with 7 wickets in 6 matches at an average of 30.85 and at an economy rate of 3.77

Extra cover: Like the West Indians in first two editions (1975, 1979), the Sri Lankans also won the World Cup without even losing a single match.

Although, they were awarded 2 wins (against Australia and West Indies) in the league stage when not a single ball was bowled in the match as the rival teams had refused to turn up for security reasons.

For the first time in the history of World Cups, a batsman scored 3 hundreds in a single edition.Australia’s Mark Waugh scored 3 hundreds in just 7 matches.

South Africa’s Gary Kirsten’s 188 against the UAE (off 159 balls with 13 fours 4 sixes) in Rawalpindi broke the record of highest individual innings in World Cup history (Viv Richards’ 181 vs. Sri Lanka in 1987) which was broken only in 2015 edition.

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