The 2019 World Cup could be the last in the storied career of MS Dhoni, whose time in the international game has been marked by his longevity and remarkable consistency.

Known as 'Captain Cool' during his time skippering India, Dhoni has compiled a resume that will secure his legacy as one of their greats. He was captain when India topped the Test rankings for the first time in 2009, unforgettably led them to 2011 World Cup glory on home soil and also lifted the T20 World Cup and Champions Trophy in 2007 and 2013 respectively.

He will not be skipper for their World Cup campaign in England. That responsibility has long since been handed over to Virat Kohli. However, a willingness to move Dhoni into a more prominent role in the batting line-up may be key to India's hopes of stopping the home nation, who are favourites to lift the trophy as they aim for an elusive triumph in a major ODI event.

The number four spot is an area of concern for India, with all-rounder Vijay Shankar currently an unpopular choice in the problem position.

Shankar has yet to score an ODI half-century in nine appearances, his highest score of 46 coming against Australia in Nagpur last month.

With no senior experience of batting on English surfaces, Shankar is undoubtedly a gamble, even if the decks are expected to be flatter than usual. A painful blow to his right forearm when facing left-arm paceman Khaleel Ahmed in the nets last Friday is unlikely to have done much for his confidence.

Shankar sat out the weekend warm-up game against New Zealand, where Kohli's men were walloped by six wickets with 12.5 overs to spare. KL Rahul batted at four in his absence and was bowled by Trent Boult for six.

Dhoni, vastly experienced in numerous positions throughout the line-up, would surely provide a safer option.

Largely deployed further down the order over recent years, Dhoni has often been tasked with getting India over the line or rescuing a situation, and he frequently excels at doing so. 

Indeed, Dhoni has 890 runs in 33 ODI innings at an average of 44.50 when batting at seven, but compare those numbers to his figures when he comes in second-wicket down - 1,358 runs at an average of 56.58 - and the case for him providing support to the top order grows stronger.

This is a World Cup filled with fearsome fast bowling attacks. England, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan all boast bowlers capable of producing searing pace, while in Tim Southee and Trent Boult New Zealand have a pair of seamers expertly adept at generating movement on English surfaces.

Combatting those attacks will be vital for India in a competition that has reverted back to a format last used in 1992. Only four teams progress from a 10-team group, in which all teams will face off once.

Dhoni could be vital to them doing so. He is extremely well versed in how to defy the world's best fast bowling units and, as the moniker he had during his time as captain suggests, has consistently showcased the composure to deliver in the biggest moments.

That calm in high-pressure situations may be of greater use at four, to provide better protection towards the top of a batting line-up set to be filled with World Cup debutants and more questions than answers in the middle and lower order.

Few players have given more to cricket in his country than Dhoni and he is deserving of a triumphant World Cup send-off. The best way for that come to pass is by putting more responsibility on the shoulders of one of India's most dedicated servants.

Pantomime villains, the 'Universe Boss' and the 'Big Show' are among a stellar cast who are plotting to tear up the script when the Cricket World Cup gets under way this week.

Four years after an embarrassing World Cup exit in the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, England are favourites to be crowned champions for the first time on home soil.

England crashed out of the 2015 showpiece after failing to progress from the group stage, but they have been transformed with Eoin Morgan as captain and Trevor Bayliss as head coach.

Top of the rankings with an aggressive approach that is the polar opposite to previous regimes, Morgan's men will take some stopping if they play to their potential.

Yet England are by no means the only side looking to banish the memories of previous failures in an extravaganza that has been reduced from 14 nations to 10.

India suffered the agony of an ICC Champions Trophy final defeat to Pakistan only two years ago, an experience that should provide additional fuel for Virat Kohli's side.

"You cannot place a World Cup win below anything else," Kohli stated, with the huge weight of a nation on his shoulders.

Holders Australia will relish the prospect of lifting the trophy for a sixth time ahead of the Ashes, with Steve Smith and David Warner having the character and immense talent to drown out verbal abuse for their part in the ball-tampering scandal.

Self-proclaimed 'Universe Boss' Chris Gayle is ready to take centre stage in his West Indies one-day international swansong, while 'Big Show' Glenn Maxwell is another potential match-winner.

There may be a lack of minnows in the absence of Associate Members, but Afghanistan will fancy their chances of ruffling a few feathers with the likes of spin wizard Rashid Khan capable of bamboozling the best batsmen in the world.

The best players in the world are ready to unleash their armoury of ramps, switch hits, slog sweeps, doosras, slower-ball bouncers and yorkers.

There will be runs galore, spellbinding spells of bowling, catches conjured up with astonishing athleticism and breathtaking fielding.

The spotlight is on England, but the hosts are far from being the only side under pressure not to fluff their lines in the next seven weeks.

New Zealand cruised to a six-wicket win in their World Cup warm-up against India at The Oval.

India captain Virat Kohli backed Jofra Archer to be England's "X-factor" at the Cricket World Cup.

Despite playing just three one-day internationals, Archer was included in England's 15-man squad for a tournament they are set to enter as favourites.

The 24-year-old said Kohli was a wicket he wanted to take, while also eyeing West Indies star Chris Gayle.

Asked about Archer's comments, Kohli said on Thursday: "Did he say that?

"I had no idea. OK, so that's news to me, news to Morgs [England captain Eoin Morgan] as well."

Kohli went on to sing the praises of Archer, who took three wickets at an average of 36 in his first three ODIs.

"If Jofra's said that, it's a big compliment because he himself is a world-class bowler," he said.

"The way he's come about in the IPL [Indian Premier League] over the past couple of years I've seen him, and playing all around the world, there's good reason why he's been fast-tracked into playing for England in a tournament like the World Cup.

"I think he's probably going to be their X-factor because he holds a skill set which is very different from anyone else. He can generate a lot of pace which can be intimidating and you don't expect that because of his run-up.

"The way he's built, he's a great athlete and I'm sure the England team is delighted to have him as well, but he's going to be pretty exciting to watch in the World Cup.

"I personally will be watching his bowling as well because whatever I've seen of him he's been very, very impressive."

India begin their tournament by facing South Africa on June 5, six days after England open the event against the same opponents.

Mercurial India skipper Virat Kohli leads experience team in quest for third World Cup title.

Ravichandran Ashwin will join Nottinghamshire for the second half of the County Championship season.

The India spinner, their fourth highest Test wicket-taker of all time, will link up with his new team-mates in time for the home match with Essex at Trent Bridge starting on June 30.

He will also feature against Somerset and Surrey, before missing the match with Yorkshire because of his India commitments. Ashwin is expected to be back for the last three matches of the Championship season versus Kent, Warwickshire and Surrey.

"I'm really looking forward to joining up with Nottinghamshire, to playing cricket at an iconic venue like Trent Bridge and hopefully contributing to some County Championship victories," Ashwin told Notts' official website.

"I enjoyed my previous stint in England with Worcestershire. It's a good, competitive standard of cricket over there and I can't wait to get started."

India captain Virat Kohli believes the upcoming Cricket World Cup will be the most challenging he has played in.

The tournament in England starts next week, with India going into the event second in the ICC's one-day international rankings behind only the hosts.

In Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah they also have the world's number one batsman and bowler in the 50-over format, but for the skipper every game represents a significant obstacle due to the depth of quality in the competition.

And the fact all 10 teams will play each other once as the World Cup reverts to the same format it used back in 1992 has Kohli on guard.

"It is probably the most challenging World Cup of all the three that I have been part of because of the format and looking at the strength of the all the sides as well," Kohli said in Mumbai before his team travelled to England.

"If we live up to our skill sets and our standards that we set for ourselves, we'll be on the right side of the result more often. That is going to be key. Every game you have to play to the best of your potential because it's not a group stage anymore, it's playing everyone once.

"The best thing is that we'll have four tough games straight up and that will set the tone nicely for us. Everyone has to be at their best intensity from the first match onwards and we don't have any room for complacency.

"It's the World Cup, the most important tournament in the world. We expect that kind of pressure from the first second."

Kohli, 30, believes handling pressure will be a bigger challenge than tackling the conditions.

"White-ball cricket, playing in England, playing an ICC tournament, the conditions are not that different or that difficult I would say, compared to Test cricket," he said.

"Pressure is the most important thing in the World Cup and not necessarily the conditions. From that point of view, it will be helpful. 

"We go into the World Cup feeling very balanced and very strong as a side. You saw in the IPL as well, all the players that are in the squad were in great form and played really well.

"We expect high-scoring games, but a bilateral series compared to a World Cup is very different.

"You might see a lot of, I won't say low-scoring games, but 260-270 kind of games, teams getting those totals and defending it successfully because of the pressure factor. We expect all kinds of scenarios at the World Cup - there will be quite a few high-scoring games too."

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose has picked the team to make a deep run at the ICC World Cup, which gets under way in England later this month.

The regional team won the first edition of the tournament in 1975 and 1979 and were only narrowly beaten by India in the following edition.  Since then it has been a major barren stretch of sorts having failed to advance to the semi-final stage in seven of the next eight tournaments.  The only exception came in 1996 when the team did manage to make the final four before being narrowly beaten by Australia.  Ambrose, who was a part of that squad, believes the current iteration could at the very least equal that feat.

“Our chances are as good as anybody’s because when you look at cricket in general and like I’ve said to the guys when I was with the team [as a coach], ICC ratings or rankings don’t really count on the field,” Ambrose told the Antigua Observer.

 “In the rankings, you could be one, two or three but it simply means you’re more consistent and you’re winning more games so you get the points to move to the top of the table but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the better team,” he added.

“We have a decent team but of course, people are going to argue about one or two players which will happen from now until eternity, but I feel we have a good enough team to go deeper into the World Cup.

Our problem is the consistency factor where we would win one game handsomely then maybe lose two or three and then win another one and if you’re so inconsistent then you’re never going to go far. As long as we are consistent in this World Cup, we can spring some surprises and go deep but we have to be consistent,” he said.

Indian Premier League (IPL) team Mumbai Indians will oversee the entire rehabilitation process of Windies pace bowler Alzarri Joseph.

The 22-year-old got his IPL career off to a lightning quick start after claiming a historic 6 for 12 in 3.4 overs.  Tragedy, however, struck for the bowler soon after as he injured his shoulder while fielding for the team in the very next game. 

The damage not only ruled the player out of the rest of the IPL season but also out of the upcoming ICC World Cup.  Despite the bowler not taking part in the rest of the tournament, the club is willing to foot the entire recuperation bill.

  "He has been in Mumbai throughout and his situation was assessed, and the surgery was done on April 30. He is currently recovering and has no movement on the shoulder as it is strapped. One of his family members is here to stay by his side. All his treatment and rehab will be taken care of by MI. He will be shifting to the MI guest house in Navi Mumbai and continue physiotherapy for the next two to three months at the Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital,” a source familiar with the situation told IANS.

 "After this, he will undergo rehab and hit the ground at the Mumbai Indians academy. It should ideally take around four to five months and even his family member shall stay with him during this phase.”

 

  Windies all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall has once again launched a bid to improve upon his fitness, generally regarded as a major stumbling block to this inclusion in the senior team.

The 26-year Antiguan native is yet to receive a call to Windies squad, despite consistently performing well at both the regional and Windies A level.  In the most recent Regional Super50 competition, Cornwall took 54 wickets in nine matches at 17.68 apiece to be crowned the competition’s top bowler. 

The Leeward Islands Hurricanes talisman has also dominated at the West Indies A level on both home and overseas tours and currently boasts 256 first-class wickets at an average of 23.

Standing at an estimated 6’5 tall and close to 300 pounds, Cornwall has made several attempts to improve on his overall fitness but is seemingly yet to make any significant progress on achieving the required fitness level.  Cornwall is, however, hoping his latest stint with noted trainer Ronald Rogers will pay dividends.

“Training-wise, I am trying to get as fit as I can because I think I am preparing for India,” Cornwall told the Antigua Observer.

“It’s nothing in terms of getting to a particular weight but just to see how far I can get as quickly as possible between now and June,” he added.

The Windies are expected to host India during a full tour scheduled for June.

“It is something that I am up for and something I am happy about so it’s just up to me now to put in the work.”

Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu have missed out on India's Cricket World Cup squad, with Vijay Shankar set to receive a prominent role.

Pant is India's Test wicketkeeper but he has not been included in the ODI group travelling to England, with Dinesh Karthik preferred to play back-up to MS Dhoni.

And according to chief selector MSK Prasad, it was Pant's glovework that saw him miss out, with recent strong performances with the bat in the longest format not enough to secure a place.

"Wicketkeeping also matters," said Prasad. "That is the reason why we went with Dinesh Karthik, otherwise Rishabh Pant was also there."

The number four spot has been an issue for India of late, with Shankar set to compete with KL Rahul for the position.

Captain Virat Kohli had previously suggested Rayudu was in line to take up the role, but he has missed out on the squad completely.

"Since the Champions Trophy, we have tried quite a few middle-order batsmen, which also included Karthik, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey," Prasad said.

"We did give a few more chances to Rayudu but Vijay Shankar gives three dimensions. He can bat, he can bowl if the conditions are overcast, plus he is a fielder.

"We are looking at Vijay Shankar as a number four. Now we have plenty of options for that slot."

The rest of the squad is as expected, with Kohli leading a group that includes Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

The ICC still allows teams to make changes to their final squads up until May 23.

 

India squad in full: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami.

Steve Smith and David Warner's year-long international exile has come to an end following their inclusion in Australia's squad for the Cricket World Cup.

Smith and Warner were stripped of their roles as captain and vice-captain respectively and banned for 12 months for their involvement in a ball-tampering scandal during the Test series against South Africa in March 2018.

Their suspensions expired last month and the pair – who did not feature in the one-day international series against Pakistan in the Middle East – will be in action at the World Cup in England, starting in June.

However, the 15-man squad – led by captain Aaron Finch – does not include in-form batsman Peter Handscomb and fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, while the likes of D'Arcy Short, Kane Richardson, Ashton Turner and Matthew Wade also missed out.

Handscomb has averaged 43 in 13 games this year, including a maiden ODI hundred against Indian, but there is no room for the Victorian following Smith and Warner's return.

Despite being sidelined since January due to injury, Hazlewood was confident of earning a World Cup spot but Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff are Australia's preferred pace options.

Starc and Richardson's inclusion for the showpiece 50-over tournament is subject to fitness.

"Steve Smith and David Warner come back into the squad. Both are world-class players and it has been pleasing to see them produce some good form in the IPL," Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said.
 
"Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson have both been named subject to fitness. The advice from the Cricket Australia [CA] medical team is they are progressing well and barring any setbacks will be available for selection ahead of our opening match against Afghanistan on June 1.  
 
"Given the depth of talent and competition for spots there were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15.
 
"Unfortunately, from the recent squad which toured India and the UAE, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner and Kane Richardson have made way for the above inclusions, but all three have been included in the Australia A squad for the tour of England.
 
"Josh Hazlewood has also been named in the Australia A squad. Having not played at the highest level for some time, we feel this will provide him with the best preparation to get some quality cricket under his belt. Our focus is to have Josh back bowling at his best for the commencement of a big Ashes Tour."

 

Australia’s World Cup squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Ben Stokes has weighed in on cricket's 'Mankad' debate, saying he could not be tempted to use the tactic - even in a hypothetical Cricket World Cup final meeting with Virat Kohli.

Ravichandran Ashwin prompted fury on Monday when he stopped his bowling action in an Indian Premier League match to stump the wandering Jos Buttler, giving the Rajasthan Royals batsman no warning.

Kings XI Punjab had previously had no answer to Buttler, who was 69 not out off 43 balls and was incensed by Ashwin's actions.

The India spinner came in for intense criticism, but he insisted he had done nothing wrong and dismissed references to "the spirit of the game".

Australia great Shane Warne kept the conversation going on social media and asked his Twitter followers what the reaction might have been if England all-rounder Stokes had similarly caught out India captain Kohli in the upcoming World Cup.

"If Ben Stokes did what Ashwin did to Virat Kohli, it would be OK?" Warne said to those defending Ashwin.

"I'm just very disappointed in Ashwin as I thought he had integrity and class. Kings lost a lot of supporters tonight - especially young boys and girls! I do hope the BCCI does something."

Having received numerous messages on the subject, Buttler's Royals and England team-mate Stokes took to his own Twitter account to respond.

"Hopefully I'm playing in the World Cup final and, if Virat Kohli is batting when I'm bowling, I would never ever ever ever ever ever ['Mankad' him]," he wrote.

"[I'm] just clarifying to the mentions I've received."

The Royals will look to bounce back from their opening defeat when they face Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday, while the World Cup gets under way on May 30.

Steve Smith and David Warner have met their Australia team-mates in Dubai as they prepare to return to international cricket following lengthy suspensions. 

Smith and Warner were stripped of their roles as captain and vice-captain respectively and banned for 12 months for their involvement in a ball-tampering scandal during the Test series against South Africa in March 2018.

Australia, under new leadership in the form of coach Justin Langer, defeated India 3-2 away from home in a one-day international series this month, and are now preparing to take on Pakistan in the same format.

Smith and Warner, although eligible for selection, will not feature in the Middle East, as they recover from elbow injuries, and are due instead to compete in the Indian Premier League, before their anticipated involvement in the World Cup and then the Ashes in England.

"It's been great to be back around the group, they've been really welcoming again and it's almost like we never left, so everything is on the right track," Smith said.

Asked what the reunion has involved, the 29-year-old added: "It's just been going through the values that are instilled in the team at the moment, making sure we are on the right path looking forward to what's coming up - a huge World Cup and an Ashes series, it's a pretty exciting time ahead for the team so just making sure everyone is heading in the same direction. It's been very beneficial and really good."

Warner said: "It's been awesome, like we didn't really leave. The boys have been really accepting of us coming in with open arms and a lot of big hugs and cuddles. It's good to see the spirit they are in after a great series win in India."

Langer feels the returning duo have plenty to offer the team after a period in the wilderness. 

"It's great to have them back on the team, it's like two brothers coming back home," he said. "Brothers leave home for different reasons in families so nice to have them back in there. They've been received really well, we had a good night last night and some great meetings today so it's been really positive.

"They've gone through a really tough time, a 12-month suspension is unprecedented really, so they are excited and because they are so excited they have a hunger to play well and make a lot of runs to help the team be successful. When you are a coach with two guys with as many runs and experience as they've got coming back into a team that's playing it's pretty exciting."

Adam Zampa's double-wicket-maiden helped Australia complete a historic comeback as they beat India by 35 runs in Delhi to win their five-match ODI series 3-2.

Australia lost the opening two games, but Wednesday's triumph rounded off a stunning turnaround and ensured they won a bilateral ODI series of at least five matches from 2-0 down for the first time.

Usman Khawaja's rich vein of form continued with his second ODI century as Australia amassed 272-9 from their 50 overs, the opener's 106-ball 100 key for the tourists as only Peter Handscomb (52) joined him in passing 30.

India's reply struggled for momentum as Australia's seam attack kept things tight early on, but it was a sensational set of six from Zampa (3-46 from 10 overs) that really damaged the hosts.

Having removed top-scorer Rohit Sharma (56) at the start of the 29th over, Zampa had Ravindra Jadeja stumped three balls later to leave India in deep trouble at 132-6.

Kedar Jadhav (44) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (46) threatened to deny Australia with a 91-run partnership, but Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson removed them in successive balls and India ultimately fell some way short on 237 all out, losing their last wicket to the final ball of the innings.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.