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Kevin Pietersen: What the IPL means to me

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen has spoken out on his experiences in the Indian Premier League.

Pietersen valued his time in the IPL and the unique learnings that came with it, saying it shaped him as a cricket.

IPL career was a great time for him that came with plenty of learning along the way and different experiences that helped him grow as a cricketer over the years and into the player he was.

He was made the highest-paid player in IPL history when he was bought for £1.1m in 2009 by Royal Challengers Bangalore before going on to represent Delhi Daredevils and Rising Pune Supergiants.

Pietersen reflected on his IPL journey to Betway.

“You could learn from the greats of the game and understand how they practiced, how they approached games, how they were in team meetings, how thorough they were, how meticulous they were in everything that they did,” Pietersen said.

He noted the pressures that came with being the highest paid player at the time but also took it in his stride. Holding such a title meant there was a bit of a chip on his shoulder to perform better.

“It came with added responsibilities and added pressures.

“When you’re walking in there and the music is banging, everyone is shouting and jumping and ‘walking in for number 3 for RCB is the world’s most expensive buy in the IPL auction’ and you’re just there thinking sheesh okay, okay, okay, right you’re not just walking out to Lords or the MCG or in Barbados as England’s number 4, you’re now that iconic player.”

Pietersen captained both Bangalore and Delhi and scored over 1,000 runs in 37 IPL matches as one of the league’s most celebrated and decorated players. 

He said one of the highlights of his time in the IPL was playing alongside star Indian batsman Virender Sehwag.

“Batting with the likes of Sehwag, I mean, that was an eye opener. Just the careless, free spirit that he is.

“Seeing the bowlers run up to him and he just goes pinga, ponga, panga, he just whacks them all over the place and some of the most fun experiences on the cricket field were with Virender Sehwag. Just a super man.”

Pietersen said he something special in Indian captain Virat Kohli from a young age.

“Sitting on the bus and batting with Virat, I knew he was destined for greatness because of the way he approached the game, the way he learnt, the questions that he asked.

“His determination to be the best player he could possibly be was evident.

“You could see that youngster who was destined and determined to get his team over the line and he wasn’t going to just give his wicket away.

“It didn’t matter how many tests i had played or how much more senior i was in the game, we do have an incredible friendship because I think of maybe the way I treated him as a youngster and guided him at the start of his career.”

The Englishman said no other cricket experience compares to the IPL and its atmosphere

“Nothing compares to the IPL in India.

“There is nothing more spectacular. Nothing more gripping. Nothing more captivating. There is no greater entertainment in the game than coming to watch a bumping Wankhede Stadium or a full Feroz Shah Kotla, or Chenai when M.S Dohni comes out to bat.

“Those partnerships between De Villiers and Kohli down in the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, there is just nothing like it in the sport.”

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Latest on Pakistan’s Cricket

The ICC World Test Championship is currently in progress, with 72 matches to be played. The championship started in August 2019 and is predicted to finish in June 2021. The final game will take place at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. However, at the moment, all matches are on hold because of the current worldwide COVID-19 outbreak.

The last match played was on March 13, and Pakistan’s final game was at the beginning of February. Their next match was scheduled for the beginning of April against Bangladesh. Since the start date for all the matches is still to be determined, fans can keep track of live cricket scores online and patiently wait.

Last World Test Championship Game

Pakistan’s last played game in the ICC was against Bangladesh in Rawalpindi on the fourth day of the first test. Pakistan managed to score their second win after a skillfully played match led by Babar Azam. With Naseem Shah as the player of the match, who is only 17 years old, Pakistan swiped the competition by an innings and 44 runs. Bangladesh started at 126 for 6 but ended up folding for 168.

Pakistan’s first hour in the game did not look good, especially when they struck on the sixth ball of the day. Mohammad Abbas removed Liton Das in the 58th over. Bangladesh started the game with an early strike when Bangladesh’s captain went in for a review, but there was no evidence the ball hit the bat first. Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi earned all three reds and a wicket.

Early in the game, it looked like Pakistan could get an innings win, especially after Bangladesh got 156 for 8 after losing another wicket. Pakistan’s Yasir Shah got one to pitch in line and trapped the opponent Liton Das in the front. That resulted in Pakistan being a wicket away from 60 World Test Championship points, leaving it with 140 points, just one point behind fourth-placed England.

Bangladesh showed some promise for future games with talented yet undisciplined batsmen. On the other hand, Pakistan has a relatively young team. Their batters and bowlers have great potential to climb up the Test rankings in a couple of years. Pakistan’s captain Azhar Ali admitted that it isn’t easy to win any Test game, which makes this win even more significant. Additionally, he praised the young Shah for managing a Test hat trick with such success.

What’s Next for Pakistan?

After their last win against Bangladesh, one win and one draw against Sri Lanka, and two lost matches to Australia, Pakistan is hoping for another win. Although that’s rarely the case, the schedule was set for a two-month pause between the two games against Bangladesh and Pakistan. Their next match was set for April in Karachi, but unfortunately, it has been further delayed.

Bangladesh was supposed to arrive in Karachi on March 29, scheduled to play an ODI on April 1 and their second World Test Championship game a couple of days later. Even though the streets are still not empty in Pakistan, the Pakistan Cricket Board decided to take precautionary measures and suspend all matches. That means all ICC and PSL matches are postponed until further notice.

Pakistan’s young team is hoping to repeat the country’s success story from 2017 at the ICC Championship. That year, the team did not start well, losing to their arch-rivals India by 124 runs in the first game. However, they managed to get to the semi-finals and beat the favorite, England, and then win their re-match against India in the finals. A similar thing happened this year, with Australia winning the first match by an innings and 5 runs.

Pakistan’s team can only hope for the same outcome and to win the first trophy at the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship of Test cricket.

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Will the Mumbai Indians Retain their IPL Title in 2020?

The organisers of IPL 2019 really could not have wished for a better end to the tournament.

Sunrisers Hyderabad aside, these were arguably the two best teams in the competition when the pressure was really on, and in the final, they served up an instant classic – Mumbai just about defending their 149-8 total with a one-run victory over the Chennai Super Kings.

Rohit Sharma’s team will have a target on their back in 2020 then, and they will need to stand up and be counted given the unique challenges that the IPL champion faces – in 12 years of this competition, only once had the reigning victory successfully defended their crown.

The bookies have made Mumbai their favourites in the latest IPL 2020 cricket betting odds, and given the questionable history of defending champions maybe that is something of a surprise.

However, they have at least recruited well in the off-season, while retaining the services of their title-winning squad of 2019. Trent Boult has been signed from the Delhi Capitals, while the auction saw Aussie pair Chris Lynn and Nathan Coulter-Nile and Saurabh Tiwary, amongst others, join the boys in blue.

They join an already bustling roster that includes captain Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Quinton de Kock, Kieron Pollard, Suryakumar Yadav, Lasith Malinga and the Pandya brothers.

All of the ingredients are in place for a title defence then, but there will be no shortage of rivals also vying for honours.

Delhi Ready to Dish Out Capital(s) Punishment

The cricket-mad fans in India’s capital are yet to see their local team win an edition of the IPL.

When we talk about off-season recruitment, surely the ‘winners’ in 2020 have been the Delhi Capitals.

They have splashed the cash to bring in not one but two eye-catching signings: Ravi Ashwin, from the Kings XI Punjab, and Ajinkya Rahane, who joins from the Rajasthan Royals.

They were incredibly active at the auction too, with Alex Carey, Jason Roy, Chris Woakes, Shimron Hetmyer and Marcus Stoinis all brought on board.

The Capitals finished third in the regular season with a 9-5 record and then kicked on in the elimination brackets, taking out the Sunrisers in the eliminator before going down to Chennai in Qualifier 2.

Agonisingly close in 2019, the Delhi Capitals will be looking to go at least one better this time around, and with an expansive batting line-up – Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer etc – backed by the likes of Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada and Amit Mishra and those new signings, the capital franchise will surely go close to claiming glory in 2020.

‘Ishant Sharma’ – Naparazzi via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Pat Cummins and Lockie Ferguson backed by Andre Russell and Kuldeep Yadav – now that’s a bowling attack!

The Kolkata Knight Riders finished agonisingly short of qualifying for the elimination stage last year, but that bowling line-up – aided by the signing of Eoin Morgan – adds to an impressive roster that already features Sunil Narine and Dinesh Karthik. KKR will have ambitions of a top-four finish in 2020.

Chennai will go with largely the same squad of players that took them to the final of the 2019 edition, which surely means they are a quality seam bowler or two shy, while the Sunrisers will be hoping that David Warner and Jonny Bairstow again flourish at the top of the innings, before Rashid Khan and Khaleel Ahmed bowl them to glory.

But, all of the above taken into consideration, the Mumbai Indians will once again take some stopping.

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Ravi Ashwin and his Mankad Tactics

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen said that India’s senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will not get much support for the controversial outing in the IPL match.

Pieterson told the Star Sports Select Dagbout show, “Whatever happened, I do not think much of it will be looked upon favourably.”  Ashwin will always be responsible because it is such a big topic and will be discussed for a long time. However, according to the ICC rules 41.16, the player can be dismissed in such a manner and accordingly, there is no need to warn the batsman as it has done in earlier cases like this.

Twitter Users say that Ashwin has Embarrassed their Country

Captain Ravichandran Ashwin of Kings XI Punjab ran out Jose Butler in a controversial manner. In the match played at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, Punjab won by 14 runs, even though the best cricket betting sites in Australia had Rajasthan Royals as favourites. The match was extremely exciting, but Ashwin has given room for controversy.

This is the first time in the IPL when a player has been run out by Mankad style.

On the other hand, India’s great spinner Irapalli Prasanna defended Ravichandran Ashwin, saying that Jos Buttler’s out-of-form match in the IPL was under the rules of the game. The 78-year-old experienced cricketer from Bangalore said, “In my opinion, he is still India’s best spinner. Whatever he did, he was within the rules. Jose Butler is a star player, but he can’t start running before the ball is thrown, this is unfair.” World’s best batsman, Virat Kohli, has refused to comment.

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after taking the wicket of England’s Ben Stokes for 30 runs during play on the third day of the fourth Test cricket match between England and India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, south-west England on September 1, 2018. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP / Getty Images )

The Law-Making Body of Cricket said that Ashwin’s Dismissal of Butler Was Not Contrary to the Game Spirit

The MCC has issued a statement on its website regarding this situation. It states that “In relation to the said incident, it is necessary to understand it in detail in order to test the words of the rules. The Mankad rule is essential.” Although, this Mankad incident has separated the cricket world.

There is nothing in the rule that mentions the bowler should give warning to the non-striker who left the crease before throwing the ball. Running out the non-striker is not against the spirit of cricket. Former Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait and former Indian captain Kapil Dev have both justified Ashwin’s method of run out.

The Rajasthan Royals were chasing a target of 185 runs in the match. England’s youngster Jos Buttler was playing with 69 runs from 43 balls at the time when Ashwin dismissed him from the marking without warning, on the 13th over. If the batsman standing on the other end of the pitch, comes out of his crease, before the ball leaves the hand of the bowler, then he can be run out via Mankad. According to the rules of the game, batsmen can be run out in this style, but such wickets are considered to be against the spirit of cricket. Thus, leading to split opinions and a sharp debate between Butler and Ashwin.

Such Runout in the Name of Venu Mankad is called ‘Mankading’

As already mentioned, this kind of runout is called ‘Mankading’ after the name of former Indian captain Venu Mankad. The Indian team was on a tour of Australia in 1947. Mankad was a famous bowler, and during this time Australian batsman Bill Brown crossed the crease. Mankad had him run out. Mankad also had to face criticism. However, Don Bradman, who was then captain of Australia, had defended him. He said that he was unable to understand why this was happening. The rules of cricket are clear. Until the ball is thrown, the non-striking batsman standing must stay in his crease.

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Proteas dated approach to ODI selection will cost them winning the World Cup

Whenever South Africa play an ODI game that isn’t at an actual World Cup, we are told that they are tinkering with selection in pursuit of the perfect starting lineup. Star players are sent away on holiday and youngsters arrive in abundance to see if they can cut it at international level. Cricket South Africa shouldn’t be criticised for blooding youngsters but rather that they don’t play any of their seasoned stars and arrive at a World Cup without them being in any form.

Since Dale Steyn made his debut for South Africa back on a windy day in Port Elizabeth in 2004, he has only managed to rack up a miserly 124 ODI games over the 15 years that have followed. Despite being seen as the key to the Proteas success at the World Cup, the South African selectors have chosen to rest their country’s best ever fast bowler and in the process, reduced his skills with the white ball given he has only played a fraction of the 50-over format during the course of his career.

With the World Cup only a few months away, the same blueprint is being followed again as Quinton de Kock and Dale Steyn were rested for the first couple of games against Pakistan in January. This dated model is without a doubt hurting South Africa and prohibiting the starting eleven from finding any rhythm together.

Most of the youngsters used in the series against Pakistan won’t be boarding the plane bound for London in May and instead, the old guard will be asked to come back from time off to win the country a first ever World Cup. It seems any progressive thinking left the South African setup when Graeme Smith retired now that the Proteas are returning to old ways that have paid no dividends on the World Cup stage since their return from isolation in 1992.

As a cricketing nation, South Africa probably have the best strength in depth around the world with an abundance of world-class talent waiting in the wings but it is how that talent is introduced to international cricket that is hurting the country’s World Cup prospects.

South Africa go into the World Cup with the chances of them winning at their longest ever odds at 8/1 in cricket betting. Despite all the ‘tinkering’, the side will look very similar to the one that competed at the World Cup in 2015 which is odd seeing as a lot of them haven’t played much ODI cricket since Grant Elliot hoisted Dale Steyn over long on for six to send the Proteas crashing out of yet another World Cup semifinal.

There has been a feeling of doom around the Proteas since AB de Villiers’ retirement but it’s worth remembering that every World Cup South Africa have gone into they have been backed as the favourites. Now that they aren’t, could flying under the radar actually help given that the spotlight seems to shine a bit too bright for the Proteas’ liking when it’s on them?

Support of the national side in will begin to reach fever pitch as the World Cup in England draws ever nearer but the fear is there could be more upcoming heartbreak for the passionate people of the rainbow nation. There’s still time to go however and a lot can happen in the next 90 days, but there’s no time to waste for the Proteas if they are to finally exorcise their World Cup demons.

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Three young starlets who could make a name for themselves at the Cricket World Cup

(Image via https://twitter.com/Ravipowell26)

The 2019 Cricket World Cup will be on everyone’s lips in the New Year as attention turns to one of the biggest sporting events in the calendar and the world’s best sides travel to England and Wales to fight it out for the most prestigious trophy in the game of cricket.

It will be the first World Cup to be contested without all of the Test playing nations being present. The format will be a single group of ten teams, with each side playing the other nine sides, and the top four teams progressing to the knockout stages.

With the abundance of quality sure to be on show in the UK and a number of young stars looking to lay down their respective markers in the world game, below are a few rising talents to keep an eye out on in the lead up to the World Cup and during the competition itself.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman – Afghanistan

At the tender age of just 17 years old, Ur Rahman is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in cricket currently and is expected to increase his stock further from 30 May to 14 July 2019, which is when the tournament is scheduled to take place. At the age of just 16 years and 325 days, the Afghan spinner became the youngest player to take a five-wicket haul in a One Day International match, eclipsing the likes of Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and team-mate Rashid Khan in doing so.

Just like the newly formed team he’s playing for, Mujeeb Ur Rahman is soaring to the top of the game and with conditions predicted to suit him in the UK, him and his Afghanistan team-mates could be the surprise package of the World Cup. Odds on them winning the competition at 100/1 (bet365) represents amazing value for a dangerous, relatively unknown quantity on the world stage, although reaching the knockout stages will surely be their main target.

Rovman Powell – West Indies

A player who is really expected to kick on in his career, Rovman Powell is someone the West Indies will be looking to up their levels in England and Wales as they aim to reign supreme and become the world’s best side. Having had a stop-start time in the last year or so and having really failed to deliver on a consistent basis, Powell hasn’t really lived up to his billing but the feeling amongst the cricket world is that he’s slowly but surely coming to the fore. At the age of 24, the all-rounder is approaching make or break time and expected to deliver in 2019, should he make the final squad of course.

As for the Windies themselves, odds on them winning the competition are currently priced at 20/1 (skybet) which is decent value for such a prestigious cricketing nation. A number of bookies offers are available too, making it all the more worthwhile when you place a bet.

Rishabh Pant – India

(Image via https://twitter.com/timesofindia)

Currently priced at 3/1 (bet365) to win the World Cup, Pant’s India are arguably the team to beat ahead of the competition. Alongside hosts England, priced at 5/2, and the always capable Australia at 5/1, India possess a huge amount of quality and tournament know-how.

Pant, who’s only 21, opened the batting for India at the 2016 Under 19 World Cup, where he registered a record-breaking half-century against Nepal in Bangladesh before notching a century against Namibia. Pant’s emergence is certainly worth monitoring in what promises to be an India side more than up for the challenge in 2019.

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Australia’s bowling depth will be tested against Pakistan

Source: Babarabt01 via Twitter

Australia have huge concerns ahead of their Test series against Pakistan after Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins pulled out of their tour. It leaves Mitchell Starc alone from the pace attack that led the Baggy Greens to their Ashes triumph over England last year. Justin Langer now faces a huge challenge, travelling to the United Arab Emirates without four of his senior players, with Steve Smith and David Warner continuing their suspensions from the ball-tampering scandal.

The Baggy Greens have not had a fruitful time since their win over England, losing their series against South Africa while being embroiled in the controversy of the scandal. The suspensions handed out to Smith and Warner along with Cameron Bancroft left a huge blemish on the reputation of Australian cricket. Darren Lehmann was forced to resign from his role as head coach, placing Justin Langer in the limelight.

Their first taste of cricket of overseas cricket without their captain and vice-captain could not have got off to a worse start as England whitewashed the Aussies in their ODI series. James Anderson made the remark during the Ashes that Australia had little depth behind their potent pace trio. His comments proved to be correct as Tim Paine had nowhere to turn to with the ball in their 50-over matches as his team were dismantled by the Three Lions.

Australia now travel to the UAE without several key men to stave off a successive Test series defeat on the road. The Baggy Greens will want to build momentum ahead of the defence of the Ashes, which they are currently backed in the latest cricket betting odds at 10/11 to win next year in England. However, a lot will hinge on the fitness of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins along with the development of the next raft of pace bowlers.

 

Source: BitsofSport via Twitter

The injuries to Hazlewood and Cummins will force Langer and Paine into delving into their depth. Jackson Bird has the experience at the age of 31, but has not excelled at the highest level. He should be scheduled to come into the side to replace Hazlewood. Bird struggled against England in his last outing, although he does have 34 wickets in his nine matches. Given the lack of players with a number of first-class games under their belts, Bird’s knowledge could be vital, especially in conditions overseas.

Jhye Richardson had brief moments on the tour of England with the white ball. The 21-year-old has not made a Test appearance for the Baggy Greens. However, he does have a good first-class record, taking 22 wickets at an average of 28.40. The problem for Richardson is that he has only played six matches of championship standard cricket. He will be learning on the job against Pakistan and then in the future series against India and England.

Chadd Sayers is the only other option for Australia that has experience at Test level, having played one solitary match against South Africa. He does not have express pace, although his style of line and length bowling could suit English condition should the Aussie selectors take a long-term view. Starc has also had fitness issues so Langer and Paine will be hopeful that he does not break down. The series against Pakistan could be very important for the future of Australian cricket, developing depth behind the key players for future series.

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Can Kohli avenge defeat?

Virat Kohli leads his men into a five Test series in England this month and the onus is on him to prove his greatness. The India captain will be up against two of the world’s canniest bowlers in James Anderson and Stuart Broad and he must step up. Last time he toured England was in 2014, when Anderson embarrassed him on a regular basis and India slumped to defeat under MS Dhoni. A lot has changed in the last four years as Kohli has established himself as cricket’s greatest star, and it is time for him to exercise those demons.

He began to enjoy a vast upsurge in ODIs after overhauling his diet and training regime in 2012. That relentless focus turned him into a machine, capable of dominating bowlers and pulling off match winning innings after match winning innings. But by the time 2014 rolled around, Anderson exposed Kohli’s weaknesses in brutal fashion. He was somewhat predisposed to planting his front foot way ahead and playing at balls away from his body, and this served him well in white ball cricket. But with the swinging red ball, Anderson bamboozled him, picking holes in his footwork and punishing his reckless nature.

Kohli ended the series with a paltry average of just 13 runs. In 10 innings, his highest score was 13. He was removed edging the ball to wicketkeeper or slips on seven different occasions, four of them at the hands of Anderson. After India’s crushing defeat, Kohli was labelled a white ball player only. Much has changed since that failure, but it remains a substantial blot on his otherwise impeccable copybook. Now the Indian captain has the opportunity to avenge that defeat and lead his team to glorious victory against a struggling England team.

If he pulls it off, he will overtake Australia’s Steve Smith as the world’s top-ranked batsman and confirm India’s status as the number one Test team. Yet if you read reviews of sportsbooks and find the best odds available you will see that India are clear underdogs in this series. That is strange as England have lost eight of their last nine tests and their focus is clearly on white ball cricket. They have struggled to cobble together a top six and they have underwhelmed for a long time.

Yet in Anderson they still possess one of the world’s finest bowlers, and Broad can be extremely dangerous too. It will be crucial for England to always have one of them on the field when Kohli is batting. If they can remove India’s openers early and attack Kohli quickly, they might have a chance of keeping the score down and allowing the likes of Joe Root and Jos Buttler to fire the hosts to victory.

However, conditions could well play into India’s hands. England is amid its driest, hottest summer since records began and prolonged sun and heat is forecast going forwards. This series runs until September 11 and these conditions will suit India far better than England. The visitors are well accustomed to heat and dry, dusty pitches, and they can thrive in England this summer. If there is sideways movement off the pitch, it could help Anderson and co trouble Kohli, as swing may not be enough. If they can keep his averages at around the 30 mark, by getting at him within the first 20 overs, they could win this series and begin the rebuilding process. But if India’s openers remain disciplined and Kohli’s averages stand at around 50, the visitors should secure victory. Then there would be absolutely no doubting Kohli’s greatness.

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Kohli goes behind enemy lines to prepare for England clash

Those who get to the top of any industry are the ones that are never truly satisfied with their own personal performance. They have a burning desire that runs deep down to always improve and that is spurred on by the acknowledgement that every day is an opportunity to get better. Virat Kohli is the epitome of that type of individual. The Indian skipper is a modern day great but he knows he has weaknesses that have the potential to weaken the legacy he will one day leave behind.

Ask any pundit or fan about Kohli’s stature in the game and you will be met with a long-winded string of superlatives. The cricket world agrees that Kohli is one of the best batsmen to have ever played the game and astonishingly he hasn’t turned 30 yet. Unfortunately, the global cricketing fraternity also shares the opinion that Kohli’s record in England is an extremely poor one by any standards and questions over his ability to succeed in the English conditions are louder than ever.

It even has Michael Holding refusing to call Kohli a great until he is able to score substantial runs in the United Kingdom. That may seem a bit cynical from the former West Indian quick but there is an element of truth in Holding’s judgment that can’t be ignored. Ignoring that fact is certainly not something Virat Kohli will be doing and the unsettling noise around his England record has made him more determined than ever.

Kohli only averaged 13.4 in the five tests in England in 2014 with a highest score of 39. As frustrating as that was for him, Kohli isn’t willing to get caught up in spats with those who have questioned his technique on English pitches.

Mudslinging between pundits and players is always fascinating to watch and gives fans a chance to see what happens when the gloves are off. It often takes place in the media and over social media, which adds fuel to any fire. No one is partial to unjust criticism especially when its delivered in a public space, but when you give it to professional sportsmen with sizeable egos, the reaction tends to be a strong one.

Virat Kohli has heard the damning assessments of his time in England and isn’t choosing to respond with the keyboard but rather with bat in hand.

Kohli has signed for Surrey and will play in the County Championship in June for the South-East franchise. It’s a move that you can only admire and gives you great insight into the way Kohli is wired. In total, Kohli will play three County Championship games for a very talented Surrey side that are yet to lose in the competition this season. Their versatility in all formats is one of their strengths and it shows as William Hill has Surrey at 13/2 to win the Vitality T20 Blast this season. Kohli will arrive in a dressing room that is well-rounded and eager to win.

The Indian captain may only be playing a small part in the four-day format but his decision to do so will reverberate around the cricketing world.

For a man that is so confident almost to the point of being brash, it’s quite evident that Kohli also recognises his flaws. Perhaps that’s why he is so confrontational on the pitch as he sees competitors around him that won’t go to the lengths he will to improve. One thing is for sure and that is Virat Kohli puts his money where his mouth is and those flaws in England may be a thing of the past after the 2018 summer.

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Three-Way Tie Among Favourites for ICC Cricket World Cup

The 2019 Cricket World Cup might seem a long way off at the moment, with most of the cricketing world more concerned with who has been tampering with balls than with wondering how the next World Cup will pan out. However, with Afghanistan and West Indies securing their place in the tournament this week to complete the final 10, it may be worth looking at the odds to get an indication of how the nations are shaping up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuWlef4vTt4

The betting markets show a very tight picture at the very top, with England, Australia and India often trading places as favourites among major bookmakers. On average, the general consensus has England as the favourites. They come in at odds of around 3/1, although they can be found as low as 5/2 (Betway) and as high as 4/1 (Marathon). Australia are priced lowest with Paddy Power at 3/1 and highest with Betfred at 9/2. India range goes from 7/2 (Ladbrokes) to 9/2 (Bet365).

Pressure will be on England to deliver in front of home fans

The first question, of course, is do England deserve to be regarded as favourites? They were awful in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, winning just two matches and exiting at the group stage. There has certainly been a lot of improvement since that time, despite a poor showing in the Ashes. The likes of Joe Root, Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes provide a decent backbone for the England side – but will home advantage be enough to finally take the three-time runners up across the finish line?

Of course, the great and the good of Australian cricket have a lot on their minds right now. The recent cheating scandal in the tour of South Africa has been described as “the darkest day in Australian cricket history”, with the Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft implicated in the incident. Even former captain Michael Clarke, who hinted at coming out of retirement, called it “pre-mediated, blatant cheating”. There is a lot of turmoil in the Australian camp then, but there is plenty of time to get back on track before the World Cup gets underway. Odds of 4/1 or so seem reasonably fair for Australia to defend their trophy.

India look like standout bet for third World Cup win

The true value may lie in backing India however. Odds of 9/2 seem quite generous for the top-ranked test playing side in the world, especially when you can use the latest free bet offers from Aussiefreebet.com.au to back India or anyone else to triumph. As ever, there is plenty of talent in the India test squad, it is just a question of whether they can prove their worth on English soil.

By no means are the trio of England, Australia and India the only serious candidates to win the ICC Cricket World Cup. South Africa, available at odds of around 5/1, also look like contenders, whereas New Zealand (7/1) and Pakistan (10/1) should certainly not be ruled out. Test cricket is often about momentum however, and you could see the odds fluctuating over the coming months. Still, a bit of value can be found in the early odds by punters looking to take a chance.