Virat Kohli hopes to be calm like UAE Royals star Roger Federer

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Different strokes: Virat Kohli was in Dubai as co-owner of IPTL franchise UAE Royals.

India captain Virat Kohli is known for his aggressive demeanour, which has been viewed in a negative light by his critics. Well aware of the criticism, Kohli wants to emulate Roger Federer – someone who he considers a role model – and channelise his energies in a more fruitful way.

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The Indian Test captain admits to his follies during the early part of his career when his public display of emotions led to him being termed as arrogant. But the 26-year-old batting star has put that behind and his growing maturity has attracted as much attention as his performances. Small wonder then that he looks up to Federer, who turned around his career from being a teenaged brat who smashed racquets to a classy legend.

In fact, Federer’s presence in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) team UAE Royals was the prime reason in Kohli becoming the co-owner of the franchise.

“I like how Federer plays,” Kohli, an admirer of the Swiss master, told Sport360 on the sidelines of the unveiling of the UAE Royals team for this season. “Obviously the physical effort is immense but he works very hard on the mental aspect too which I also believe in and want to strengthen.”

Kohli feels the composure Federer exhibits on court is something all young sportsmen, including himself, must incorporate in their game if they want to become better players.

“When he came in he was more expressive on court than he is now, he has learned to control that and actually use that energy into the way he plays and that’s why he is so successful. That’s a learning for me and all the young sportsmen around the world, not just tennis players,” he said.

Kohli believes he is in control of his aggressive demeanour now and insists it has nothing to do with the additional responsibilities of being a Test captain, putting it down to a natural process of maturity.

“It is not that I consciously made an effort to change because of captaincy,” he said.

“He was more expressive, he has learned to control that” – Kohli on Federer

“It is something that is coming naturally to me with time as I grow more into my career. I think a lot of things you learn along the way. You make a lot of mistakes when you are young when you have just come into the team, not able to find your feet and not sure of what you want to achieve. After a period of time when you feel more stable, you feel more clear headed and that’s when things start calming down. I think the same has happened to me.

“I don’t feel the need to be that expressive anymore. It is all about controlling my aggression or putting that energy into performances.”

Since his appointment as Test captain following the retirement of Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the Australia series, Kohli has led India in five Tests, won two, drawn two and lost one. It includes the series victory in Sri Lanka, a first in 22 years, which Kohli feels is “massive” for his young team and puts them in the right frame for the upcoming home series against world No1 South Africa.

In awe: Kohli met Roger Federer in January in Australia.

“Winning is always something that really motivates the team more, boosts their confidence and I think from that perspective it was very important to have a series win, not just one odd Test match,” he said.

“It gives you the belief that we can win series against any team, anywhere in the world and that belief only comes when you are able to actually go out and do something like that. Now that we have tasted success away from home, we will take the learnings from that and repeat the same thing.”

South Africa have always posed a tough test for the Indians with the Proteas tasting series success in 2000 (2-0) and sharing the honours during their last visit in 2008 (1-1). In fact, India have not won a home series against the South Africans since 2005.

Kohli, who leads the run tally in the current squad with 2,794 runs in 37 Tests at an average of 45.06, offered a straight bat to the impending South African challenge, saying:  “There is no need to differentiate any team from another, we’d like to prepare the same way and give them the same kind of respect.”

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England beat Australia to level series

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Eoin Morgan was in outstanding form from the bat with 92 off 92 balls.

England have beaten Australia by three wickets at Headingley in the fourth Royal London one-day international to level the five-match series at 2-2.

The hosts made it 2-2 with one to play as they chased down 300 for the first time against Australia and only the fourth time in their history, with skipper Eoin Morgan leading the way with 92.

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But Maxwell was irresistible – taking a two-phase boundary catch that will linger long in the memory, another one-handed grab to dismiss Morgan, one wicket and top-scoring for his side with 85.

He did not deserve to be on the losing side but the hosts secured a brilliant three-wicket success with 10 balls remaining, David Willey ending it emphatically with a steepling six down the ground.

 James Taylor and Ben Stokes chimed in with twin 41s, while Moeen Ali contributed a controlled 21 not out at the close.

Willey, making his first appearance of the series, welcomed Australia’s decision to bat first enthusiastically.

With the new ball swinging, the Yorkshire -bound left-armer ripped out the top three at his new home ground.

 Joe Burns dragged on, Steve Smith was pinned lbw and Aaron Finch edged having declined to move his feet.

At the 10-over mark Australia were struggling on 39 for three but it might have been even better had Roy held a tough slip catch offered by Maxwell on six.

Maxwell enjoyed another life on 35 – spilled at fine-leg by Adil Rashid – before truly finding his feet alongside the steadier George Bailey.

But by the time he thrashed successive Rashid deliveries for six, six and four – passing 50 with the first – he was at his ease.

Maxwell welcomed Moeen with a reverse sweep for four but, for the second match in a row, the stroke cost him his wicket when he lost his leg stump attempting a repeat.

With Maxwell gone England’s spin duo applied the brakes well.

Bailey and Mitchell Marsh were made to work hard for their runs before Liam Plunkett drew mishits from both in the 41st over.

Debutant Marcus Stoinis followed to leave them 215 for seven and needing a shot in the arm.

 Matthew Wade and John Hastings duly delivered.

They clubbed 84 runs at better than 10-per-over, confounding all attempts to keep runs in check.

 England’s response to 299 for seven started badly, the out-of-form Alex Hales gone for a second ball duck having been beaten for pace by Pat Cummins.

Enter Taylor, fresh from his maiden hundred in Manchester.

He peppered the ropes with a series of boundaries, including three in an over off James Pattinson.

 Jason Roy was inspired to follow suit, overtaking his partner with five fours in 13 deliveries as England raced to 73 for one in the powerplay.

But neither man kicked on, Roy (36) feeding a Cummins slower ball to mid-off and Taylor brilliantly held down the leg-side by Wade.

As Morgan and Stokes bedded down, Australia’s bowlers dried up the runs effectively until Pattinson shipped 14 to leave England 143 for three at halfway – matching Australia identically at the equivalent position.

Morgan had survived a caught behind appeal on 33 after replays showed Wade collecting on the half-volley, and reached 50 in 66 balls.

Stokes was within sight of the same landmark when he was yorked by Marsh, but Morgan merely grew in stature.

His measured knock exploded into life when he dashed forward and crashed Hastings into the roof of the stand, a shot the Dubliner followed with four boundaries in eight balls.

It would take something special to see off the skipper and Maxwell provided it, leaping back and across to claim a staggering catch at point.

Maxwell refused to stay quiet. His off-spin accounted for the sweeping Jonny Bairstow, who was caught behind on review, but Australia failed to turn the screw when Wade grassed Moeen with 31 needed.

Maxwell’s one-man show reached a crescendo when he caught Plunkett, holding then releasing a tough chance on the boundary, briefly balancing then leaping back on to the field of play and regathering the ball.

By then it was too late to change the result, Moeen keeping a calm head and Willey ending things with a monstrous blow off Hastings.

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Wasim Akram ready to give up MCL contract for Pakistan

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Wasim Akram (L) is one of the ambassadors for the new Pakistan Super League.

Pakistan’s high-profile T20 league ambassadors Wasim Akram and Rameez Raja are confident that the product would compete with other top leagues around the world in two to three years time apart from the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The two players were sharing the views officially for the first time at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, sitting along with PSL chief Najam Sethi and project head Salman Sarwar Butt.

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“It’s important that things roll on for PSL from next year and I’m confident that it would compete with other big leagues around the world in three years, except the IPL because it’s staged at a different scale,” Wasim said.

“Ideally, everyone would have wanted the competition to be played in Pakistan but it doesn’t matter even if we start at a neutral venue. Things will change in the future and then hopefully PSL would return to Pakistan as a bigger and better entity.”

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has played a masterstroke by roping in the two players who were supposed to appear in Masters Cricket League (MCL) – a competition for former players which emerged as a rival for PSL to be staged in UAE in February 2016.

It forced PCB to look elsewhere and instead opt for Doha (Qatar) after left angered by Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) officials’ who did not pay any heed to PCB’s request of finding out a middle way for both PSL and MCL.

The PSL will run in February 2016.

When Wasim was asked what his future with MCL was, he replied: “I’m up for leaving anything for Pakistan cricket; because even its MCL contracted I don’t want to earn money by playing cricket but instead want to give something back to my nation. We signed with MCL and had to work for them but my priority is to help our country’s cause.”

Meanwhile, Ramiz said that it is a big step forward and will help in producing top-class players.

Ramiz, who is a renowned commentator right now after his playing days, urged the stakeholders of the Pakistan league to support the future of Pakistan cricket.

“It’s a big way forward for Pakistan cricketers that PSL is about to start. The experience of sharing the dressing room, practice sessions and playing matches with superstars would be priceless for youngsters.  It’s a great beginning for Pakistan cricket and all stakeholders must support it because positive energy yields a positive outcome,” Ramiz said.

He added that they have come to improve the image of Pakistan in front of foreigners and help PCB get the best possible players and ultimately help them to bring PSL back to Pakistan in future.

The PSL has the potential to be one of the biggest league's in the world.

The 53-year-old hoped that financial security would bring professionalism among players and the event would help Pakistan to get improved bench strength.

After two failed attempts, it looks like that PCB will be finally able to pull up the project successfully under the leadership of Najam Sethi, who said that very soon the tenders would be floated for bidding of franchises, broadcasting and production rights.

“We’ll be floating tenders very soon in the market while the PSL logo would be unveiled on September 20 in Lahore,” Sethi remarked.

Asked whether the two players would work as ambassadors on an honorary basis or would get heavy incentives, Sethi replied: “There is no price for the two players. They have sacrificed for the national cause. The world is ready to give their hands and legs for them. Instead, we’ve insisted them to take an honorarium which is nothing compared to the services we’ll get from these two legends.”

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