It’s hard to be a celebrity Indian cricketer these days, past or present. At a time when the entire nation is debating what punitive action should be taken against Pakistan, cricketers have been drawn into the debate.Sport teaches an athlete to go for a win, not suffer losses. So, it’s natural that some of the comments one is reading from the star cricketers talks of refusal to play Pakistan or a boycott in the World Cup.The two notable exceptions are the two famous Mumbaikars – Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar – who have said it’s better to go out and whack the Pakistanis on the cricket field in England this summer.On Saturday, Indian captain Virat Kohli, who has an aggressive streak in whatever he does these days in cricket, also had to answer questions on Pakistan after the Pulwama terror incident. Sure enough, Kohli answered in the most diplomatic way, that he and his team would respect the decision of the Indian government and the Indian cricket board (BCCI).The World Cup is still a few months away and the immediate focus of Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and the team should be on the cricket preceding it. On Sunday, India play familiar rivals Australia in the series-opener at Vizag in a T20 international. In all, there are two T20 matches and five ODIs, which is being seen as the best possible way to test players before the World Cup.The obvious names are known to all cricket fans and you don’t need to be a crystal ball gazer to come out with the list of first 12. Will Rishabh Pant be picked or not, will Dinesh Karthik get a look in and who will be the reserve spinner? With Ravindra Jadeja getting a last-minute call-up thanks to Hardik Pandya’s back strain, any number of options will come up before the selectors.advertisementTo be sure, if one were to compare the choices available before Kohli and his Aussie counterpart Aaron Finch, and their own batting form, there is a stark difference. Kohli has been in the form of his life, winning huge, including the Test series Down Under. He missed the ODIs and the T20s in New Zealand and could afford a break.Sadly, Finch has been facing all kinds of problems. This is the worst scenario for the Aussie side, which has been battling all kinds of woes since the time Steve Smith and David Warner were suspended for their sandpaper scrub incident.Ideally, a captain who leads the side should himself be in good form. In modern cricket, there can be no captain in the Mike Brearley mode of just being a good leader. Today, the captain has to set an example with his own bat and then expect the rest of his players will chip in suitably.For Kohli, there is a huge advantage in having MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma in the side. Not only do these two men have rich experience and have shown great form, their inputs to the team will be huge. It’s no secret Kohli relies on Dhoni as the former captain’s rich experience makes such a big difference.Add to it the way Rohit has led the side recently in the shorter formats, Kohli has every reason to feel pleased as punch. Cricket pundits and the average drawing room experts have already predicted India will do well in England, not realising there will be a huge difference in conditions.So, before India decide on how to combat Pakistan at every stage, Kohli and his team has the opportunity to peak for the World Cup. Fitness will be a vital area as immediately after this series, players will be gearing up for the Indian Premier League.Smart players know how to deal with playing for the country and clubs, especially the Indians. The same cannot be said of the Aussies, who are having a nightmarish time over the last six months. Down Under, nobody expects this Aussie bunch to do well in England though it would be immature to write them off.In the best and worst of times, the Aussies are known for being tough cookies and take pride in the Baggy Green. If anything, playing hard in India and turning a few matches around cannot be discounted as they are the underdogs.The Aussies are aware, for them, this tour to India is a chance to silence critics with solid performances. The question is, if they can show the temperament they were once famous for and play hard.advertisementYes, it’s a huge challenge to play in India for any visiting side. But then, when one is at the nadir, the only way is to look up. Finch would love to take the lead like his counterpart Virat Kohli and show that Aussie cricket still has some life.Also Read | Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul in focus as India play Australia in final series before World CupAlso Read | Want to declare Pakistan as the apartheid of cricket: CoA chief Vinod Rai to India Today
bret bielema kenyan drakeEarlier Monday morning, we showed you a video of Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema pulling what can only be described as a questionable move on Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson. It turns out it may not have been the only time the Razorbacks coach got physical with a member of the Crimson Tide.In the below video, also taken from Saturday’s contest, Bielema appears to bump Alabama running back Kenyan Drake out of bounds near the end of a play – again. Judge for yourself.Was it intentional? Regardless, it’s about to be the second viral video involving Bielema’s conduct during Saturday’s game.