Harbhajan targeting Champions Trophy comeback

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Harbhajan last played an ODI in October 2015.

Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh may not have represented the Indian team in ODIs in over a year, but it doesn’t mean he is giving up hope of a return to the national team.

The 36-year-old is looking at the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Indian Premier League (IPL) as tournaments to impress the Indian selectors with.

Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Harbhajan mentioned that he is targeting the ICC Champions Trophy in June for his comeback to international cricket.

“I am focused on making a comeback to the India team. I haven’t given up and want to do well in whatever chances I get in the coming three-four months. I am targeting the Champions Trophy,” said Harbhajan.

“‘Til then, I need to perform consistently and to my potential. I will be working hard to achieve this target for Punjab and then in the IPL.”

Harbhajan wants to follow the lead of fellow Punjab cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who recently made a return to the ODI team after a gap of over three years.

The off-spinner hailed Yuvraj’s fighting spirit and mentioned that such a story is inspiring for others.

“Yuvi is a fighter who never gives up easily. To make a comeback, he had to score a lot many runs. He did that, scoring so many runs in Ranji Trophy, including a couple of big knocks,” added Harbhajan.

“His comeback is inspiring for others too. He has been India’s finest finisher and, knowing his potential, I am sure he will do well against England.”

Harbhajan has played 236 ODIs for India, picking up 269 wickets. He starred for the Men in Blue when they lifted the World Cup on home soil in 2011.

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PREVIEW: India vs England - Second ODI

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Kohli is having a dream run as captain and batsman.

India take on England in the second ODI of their three-match series at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Thursday.

After a brilliant run chase in the first ODI which gave them a 1-0 lead, the Indians will be high on confidence going into this match.

On the other hand, England are yet to win an international match on the current tour to India and will be hoping for a change of fortunes in Cuttack.

DATE, TIME, VENUE INFO

Date: January 19, 2017 (Thursday)

Time: 12:00 GST, 13:30 local time (IST), 08:00 GMT

Venue: Barabati Stadium, Cuttack


WHERE TO WATCH, LIVE STREAMING INFO

TV: UAE – OSN Sports Cricket HD, India – Star Sports 1, HD 1 (English), Star Sports 3, HD 3 (Hindi), UK – Sky Sports 2 HD

Online streaming: hotstar.com, Hotstar app (in India only)

LIVE blog: Sport360 blog


TEAM NEWS, SQUAD, PREDICTED XI

INDIA SQUAD: Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.

It is well known that Virat Kohli, as captain, likes a change or two, so much so that he has has never named the same XI in two successive Tests since taking charge.

When it comes to ODIs, will it be any different?

Umesh Yadav was expensive in the first match and the Indian think-tank may look at Bhuvneshwar Kumar as a possible replacement. India’s bowling at the death was poor in Pune and Bhuvneshwar has shown in the IPL that he is good at the death, especially his ability to bowl yorkers.

There is a pressure on Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order, but with his ODI record, he will most likely be given more chances to recapture his form.

PREDICTED INDIA XI: Dhawan, Rahul, Kohli (c), Yuvraj, Dhoni (wk), Jadhav, Pandya, Jadeja, Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah.

ENGLAND SQUAD: Eoin Morgan (c), Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Liam Dawson, Adil Rashid, Jake Ball, Chris Woakes, David Willey, Liam Plunkett.

England must be wondering what they must do to win a game in India. Even scoring 350 didn’t guarantee them victory in the first ODI.

The batting looked good, though the indifferent form of captain Eoin Morgan is a worry, especially with in-form batsmen like Jonny Bairstow and Sam Billings knocking on the door.

Adil Rashid was very expensive on Sunday, conceding 50 runs from his five overs, so you wouldn’t be surprised if all-rounder Liam Dawson replaces him in the team.

PREDICTED ENGLAND XI: Roy, Hales, Root, Morgan (c), Buttler, Stokes, Ali, Dawson, Woakes, Willey, Ball.


FORM

(Last five matches – with latest match first)

INDIA:  W W L W L

ENGLAND: L W L W L


MATCH PREDICTION

India to win, but expect it to be another close game.

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Tendulkar or Kohli? Mohammad Yousuf decides

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Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.

Following Indian captain Virat Kohli’s impressive form in the recent form, there have been comparisons between legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and the Delhi batsman.

Kohli is seen as a natural successor to Tendulkar in the batting department for the Indian team, but former Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Yousuf still rates the latter higher.

Yousuf is of the opinion that the bowlers these days are not as good as they were when Tendulkar played.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Kohli. He is an exceptional talent. But I rate Tendulkar much higher because of the era he played in, against the best teams, fast bowlers and spinners,” said Yousuf.

“Nowadays, the quality of players is not the same as it was, say, in the 90s and until 2011. After the 2011 World Cup, the quality has come down.

“Tendulkar was a world-class player and this can be judged by the number of runs and hundreds he scored against strong opposition in all conditions and in all formats.”

Tendulkar made his international debut in 1989 and played at the top level for 24 years. He has a host of records to his name including most Test and ODI runs, and the only batsman to notch up 100 international centuries.

“I played a lot against Tendulkar and he was a masterclass and produced match-winning knocks many a times. I don’t think Kohli is facing the same quality bowlers or opposition,” added Yousuf.

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