Kevin Pietersen becomes first non-Indian to deliver MAK Pataudi Memorial lecture for BCCI

Sudhir Gupta 13/06/2018
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Pietersen ahead of delivering the lecture. Image - BCCI/Twitter.

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen became the first player outside India to deliver the annual MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

The annual lecture has previously only been delivered by former India players including Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble.

The 37-year-old started the lecture off by thanking the BCCI for giving him the honour of becoming the first non-Indian to deliver the lecture.

“To be completely honest with you, I am still a little overwhelmed to have been asked to speak following the great and the good of Indian cricket who have given this lecture over the past five years,” Pietersen stated.

“Seriously though, to be the first overseas cricketer to give this lecture, it feels nothing less than incredible. I believe there are those in the local media who met the news of my selection using words a little stronger than incredible!”

The South Africa-born star took the opportunity to exalt the virtues of Test cricket in his speech.

“Let’s make Test cricket a spectacle. Garnish it with colour and fireworks. Fill the grounds. Play in the evenings. Give the umpires microphones to broadcast to the spectators,” he said.

“Allow sledging – as long as it remains the right side of the line. Communicate better with the fans,” he added.

The flamboyant batsman also had some words of advice for the Afghanistan cricket team before their inaugural Test against India which gets underway on Thursday at Bengaluru.

Speaking to Test cricket’s latest entrants, Pietersen asked, “What does it take to succeed in a Test match? What makes it different from the other forms of the game in which you have already excelled?”

“For me, it’s the ability to take your lessons from the nets into the heat of battle.

“It’s the determination to prepare, practise and give 100 per cent commitment to everything away from the game. I appreciate that’s quite lot to ask for before Thursday! But I know some of you personally and you have been demonstrating those qualities and that application for a long time now.”

Over the course of his career, Pietersen played 136 Tests, 136 ODIs and 37 T20Is for England and is the country’s fifth highest run-getter in Test cricket history with 8,181 runs. He had recently retired from all forms of professional cricket after his stint in the last edition of the Pakistan Super League.

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Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane says India will look to be ruthless against Afghanistan

Sudhir Gupta 13/06/2018
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Rahane is not taking Afghanistan lightly in their inaugural Test.

As Afghanistan get ready to play their inaugural Test, Ajinkya Rahane has stated that India will not be taking the latest entrants to the five-day format lightly.

Speaking on the eve of the Test at Bengaluru, Rahane, who is standing in for regular skipper Virat Kohi, said that his side will aim to be ruthless against Asghar Stanikzai’s men.

“We are not going to take Afghanistan lightly. They have a decent team… bowlers (are good),” Rahane was quoted as saying by AFP.

“As a Test team we cannot take anyone for granted because cricket is a funny game. We want to go out there and be ruthless.

“We are going to focus on our strengths, our positives. We are not thinking about Afghanistan. Yes, we respect them as our opponent but it’s important for us to go out there and give more than our 100 per cent,” the 30-year-old batsman stated.

Stanikzai’s men have enjoyed a meteoric rise in the world of cricket ever since they gained ODI status in 2009. The Afghans have since participated in four separate Twenty20 World Cups and sealed qualification for their second 50-over World Cup which will take place next year in England.

Acknowledging Afghanistan’s rapid rise, Rahane said that it would be an honour for the Indian team to take the field on Thursday.

A few days earlier, Stanikzai had opined that his side have a stronger spin contingent than India. The Afghan side for the inaugural Test includes Rashid Khan and emerging mystery-spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman.

Rahane is backing his spinners to perform in Bengaluru.

Rahane is backing his spinners to perform in Bengaluru.

However, the stand-in India skipper refused to read too much into his Afghanistan counterpart’s statement and backed his spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav to put in a strong performance.

“Every member of their team believes that their side is good, that their bowling attack or batting unit is better,” Rahane quipped.

“We all know the stats but we don’t focus on them. Our spinners, Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep are experienced and quality spinners.”

With most of the players in the Indian side having been involved in the recently concluded IPL, Rahane believes his side need to quickly get out of the mindset of T20 cricket.

“A couple of practice session were fantastic after coming back from the IPL,” he said.

“It’s important we play our minds rather than skills, because getting back to Test from T20 cricket is all about tuning your mind rather than focusing on your skills.”

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New Zealand legend Sir Richard Hadlee diagnosed with bowel cancer but expected to make full recovery

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Kiwi legend: Sir Richard Hadlee.

New Zealand great Sir Richard Hadlee has been diagnosed with bowel cancer but is expected to make a full recovery.

Hadlee, whose 431 Test wickets are the most by a Kiwi and place him eighth on the all-time list, has undergone surgery to remove a tumour and will have chemotherapy over the course of the next few months.

A statement released by New Zealand Cricket on behalf of the 66-year-old’s wife, Lady Dianne Hadlee, read: “Last month, Richard had a routine, three-year colonoscopy, and we discovered that he has bowel cancer.

“He has since had an operation to remove the tumour. This operation went extremely well and he has made an excellent recovery from surgery.

“As a safeguard, further treatment in the form of chemotherapy will commence shortly and last for a few months.

“It is expected that, in time, he will have a full recovery.

“Our reasons for making this statement are a desire to be transparent, and to prevent the inevitable speculation and incorrect rumours.”

Hadlee is widely regarded as one of the finest bowling all-rounders to have graced the game, also amassing 3,124 runs, with two centuries and 15 fifties, in his 86 Tests from 1973 to 1990.

At the time of his retirement, he held the world record for most Test wickets and was the first to reach the 400 milestone.

A former fast bowler who later modified his action to rely on swing, Hadlee was a pivotal presence in Nottinghamshire’s County Championship triumphs in 1981 and 1987.

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