India will look to defend their claim as Asia’s best when they take the field in the 2018 Asia Cup which starts 15 September in the United Arab Emirates.Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will play the tournament-opener in Dubai on September 15, with the title clash being played on September 28 also in Dubai.India will open their campaign against Hong Kong, who had defeated UAE in the final of the qualifiers, on September 18 in Dubai and then play arch-rivals Pakistan at the same venue.Rohit Sharma will be leading the Indian team in absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli, who has been rested keeping in mind his heavy workload.READ – MS Dhoni’s chance to answer critics after average England seriesAnd on Thursday afternoon, Rohit led nine members of the Indian team to Dubai, with the rest of the players – who competed in the gruelling Test series in England – joining the squad on September 16 after a two-day break.And this is not the first time that Kohli has opted to take a break from a tournament since becoming India’s fulltime captain. (READ FULL STORY HERE)At the previous tournament in 2016 in Bangladesh, which was organised in the Twenty20 format, Kohli was India’s leading run-scorer with 153 runs in their title-winning camping. The current skipper for the upcoming edition, Rohit, was the second best with 138 runs.But that was a different format and the 2018 edition of the Asia Cup will be played in the 50-over format – as the 50-over World Cup is scheduled to be held in England and Wales next year.advertisementREAD – Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and 7 other Team India members depart early for Asia CupKohli was easily India’s best batsman, with 191 runs, in the latest white ball series (the three ODIs against England). Rohit was second best again with 154 runs.So how will the Indian batting line-up cope in the absence of Kohli this time around?READ – Will miss bowling at him: Hasan Ali on Kohli’s absence from Asia CupIn the lead up to the tournament Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali felt Kohli’s absence was good news for his team’s chances, even though he would have liked to have taken the Indian captain’s wicket.”Virat Kohli is a very good player. Everybody knows that he is a match-winner. Though India are still a good side, his absence is going to be an advantage for us. He can drive his team out of pressure anytime and any newcomer won’t be good enough to handle the pressure. I am definitely going to miss bowling at him. It’s natural that every young bowler would like to have his wicket.WATCH – Rohit Sharma & Co. depart for Asia Cup 2018″But it’s okay if he is not coming … I will look for him the next time. I wasn’t targeting Kohli only. We are not going to play only against India as there are other teams [in the tournament] as well. Our main focus is the entire tournament rather than winning one game and losing others. We have do well to beat every team and try to win the tournament,” Ali had said before leaving for the UAE.Kohli was one of the brightest lights in an otherwise gloomy Test series against England, scoring 593 runs at an average of 59.3 in five matches including two centuries.READ – Laxman names Shoaib Malik as real threat for India vs PakistanAs for Kohli’s record against India’s neighbours Pakistan – it is impressive to say the least. He has scored 459 runs in 12 ODIs and that too at an average of 45.90. Kohli also has two centuries, with one of them being his highest ODI score of 183, which came in the Asia Cup in 2012.And according to another Pakistan pacer Faheem Ashraf, India are a world class team despite the absence of number one ranked batsman in ODI cricket.”Look, India even if Virat Kohli is not coming, India is a world class team. So you can’t take them lightly at any time. We are practising with hundred per cent effort, even if it is a batsman or a bowler and even in fielding. Our job is to give hundred per cent in training and, Inshallah (God Willing), we will surely win the match as well,” Ashraf said at a press conference after reaching the tournament venue.So what does Kohli’s absence mean for the Team India at the Asia Cup?The issue can be studied under the light of added pressure for the rest of the Indian batting line-up. But the situation can also be taken as an opportunity for the others to perform and stake a claim in the side running up to World Cup.advertisementWith doubts over India’s best choice batsman for the No.4 and No.6 position, the trio of Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav have a chance to prove themselves. KL Rahul, who capped off a rather disappointing tour of England with a century, will also be itching to be score more runs in Dubai and finalise his seat on the flight to England next year.
Transfers ‘Aguero will decide his future’ – Guardiola happy to have ‘legend’ at Man City Ryan Benson Last updated 1 year ago 02:43 12/24/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Transfers Manchester City Manchester City v AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth Premier League Sergio Agüero Guardiola The striker is unhappy with the rotation policy at the Etihad Stadium, but the manager understands the Argentine’s concerns Pep Guardiola has labelled Sergio Aguero a “legend” and insisted he understands the striker’s reported frustrations with life at Manchester City.The former Atletico Madrid striker was the star of the show on Saturday, as City beat Bournemouth 4-0, their 17th successive Premier League win.Aguero got the scoring started with a stooping header just before the half-hour mark, before adding another in a second period which also included goals from Raheem Sterling and substitute Danilo. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player The Argentina international’s performance provided the perfect reminder to Guardiola of his abilities after again becoming frustrated with his manager’s rotation policy.100 – Sergio Aguero’s goal was the 100th that he has scored at the Etihad Stadium for Manchester City in all competitions. Century. pic.twitter.com/N00PG5WZBS— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 23 December 2017Guardiola lauded Aguero’s display, before adding that he can understand why players might get annoyed.”He is a special player, there’s no doubt about that,” said Guardiola. “He’s a legend and I am so happy when he plays good and he is scoring goals.”I was a football player. I understand the players in that when they are substituted and don’t play, they are sad and upset.”I understand our job is to try and search to find a weakness, but I try to have the best relationship with my players as possible.2 – Sergio Aguero netted two headed goals in a game for the first-time ever within Europe’s big five leagues. Crown.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 23 December 2017″Sometimes, I think Gabriel Jesus deserves to play – and Bernardo Silva and Eliaquim Mangala. The important thing is that they have respect between each other.”If they are not happy with me, that is not a problem, but they have an amazing relationship between them. The locker room is a dream and to play with them and train with them.”I have a lot of respect for Sergio Aguero and all he has done, what he does and what he will do in the future.”He will decide everything about his future and his life. I am so happy to have him here with Gabriel Jesus and the squad.”
Kolkata: Fearlessness bordering on abrasiveness and unmistakable contempt for rivals has been the hallmark of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for as long as she has been in public life and collective memory. But don’t be surprised if you see a gentler, less combative avatar of the TMC boss in future. It is part of a huge makeover plan election strategist Prashant Kishor has charted out for the ebullient leader and her party to take on a battle-hardened BJP, which made deep inroads into her heavily fortified fortress, in the 2021 assembly polls. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja TMC leaders said the Lok Sabha elections this year, when the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 seats, just four less than Banerjee’s party in West Bengal, debunked the myth of the TMC’s invincibility. The TMC felt there was a pressing need for “professional help” to refurbish the party’s image in order to counter an aggressive and ideology-driven BJP in the state. “Now, with the help of Kishor’s inputs, we are hopeful that we would make a turnaround in the assembly elections. If you have to counter an organised and ideology-driven BJP, you too either need a strong ideological mooring or an organised corporate-like setup. Kishor is providing us the second,” said a senior TMC leader, wishing not to be named. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway According to sources in the TMC and IPAC (Indian Political Action Committee), Kishor’s firm, which managed with great success Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial campaign with initiatives like ‘chai pe charcha’ and helmed backroom manoeuvres for Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) in Bihar and Y S Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRC in Andhra Pradesh, is now crafting the TMC’s poll strategy. It is the architect of Banerjee and her party’s ‘Didi ke bolo’ mass outreach programme aimed at connecting with people at the grassroots or ‘Trinamool’, after which the party takes its name. The strategy includes Banerjee and other TMC leaders being more measured and temperate in their criticism of rivals and desisting from commenting on each and every excitable subject, the TMC leader said. Political rivals will be allowed to hold their programmes unimpeded to send out a message that the party is wedded to democratic practices. Banerjee was often criticised for her government cancelling events of top BJP leaders including those of Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during the Lok Sabha polls. The party and its leaders also have to shed the image of being intimidators who subjugate rivals. It has been decided that henceforth there won’t be any “poaching” or “forcible joining” of elected representatives from opposition Congress and CPI(M), the TMC leader said. Since the 2016 Lok Sabha polls around 17 Congress MLAs and three of the Left Front switched over to the TMC. The effect of the brainstorming sessions Banerjee had with Kishor and his team was visible during the July 21 Martyrs’ Day rally when unlike previous years no leader from rival political parties joined the TMC. The TMC leader said, as part of the strategy, the party and its government will desist from doing anything that would buttress the BJP’s allegation of Muslim appeasement. Instead, efforts will be made to counter the BJP’s “communal agenda”. Foremost, the party will endeavour to build a political narrative centered on Banerjee as the “one and only leader” of the TMC. “The impression that a senior youth leader is the heir apparent of Banerjee didn’t go down well with a section of the masses and party old timers. So this has to be corrected,” she said, apparently referring to Banerjee’s nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee. Party meetings, hitherto open to media, will now be cloaked in secrecy to ensure “things are not misinterpreted”. Kishor and his team will analyse the outcome of the strategy over the next few weeks before fine tuning it further. “In 2016 we had won 211 seats. As per LS results we are still ahead in 170 seats… It has been decided to categorise assembly segments as A, B, and C to direct our energy accordingly,” a TMC leader said. “The 170 seats where we have taken a lead would fall under category ‘A’ and around 50 seats where we were a close second would fall under category ‘B’. Where we were too distant would fall under the ‘C’ category,” the TMC leader said. Stung by reverses in the Lok Sabha polls, Banerjee had launched helpline number 9137091370 and website www.didikebolo.com to enable people to have a direct interface with party functionaries. The initiative is Kishor’s brainchild. She also unveiled a massive public outreach programme under which over 1,000 party leaders will visit 10,000 villages over the next 100 days to understand people’s problems. The Lok Sabha poll results indicated a tectonic shift in Bengal politics, with the BJP emerging as the main contender to power in the state. It remains to be seen how Kishor blunts the BJP’s propaganda about allegations of corruption against TMC functionaries. Banerjee’s mercurial temperament may also be an impediment. “Another big challenge is how far will Mamata Banerjee herself comply with the changes Kishor and his team want to bring in as she is not used to taking suggestions while running the party or the government,” said another TMC leader. The BJP, however, is unfazed about how Kishor, a vice president of its Bihar ally the JD(U), will reinvigorate the TMC. “The TMC hiring Kishor proves that Mamata Banerjee has lost her Midas touch,” said Jaiprakash Majumdar, a vice president of West Bengal’s BJP unit.