Brendon McCullum said the inaugural Indian Premier League game "changed his life forever" as he recalled the magical 158 not out he scored 12 years ago.

McCullum lit up the opening match of the 2008 campaign as he inspired Kolkata Knight Riders to victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in a star-studded affair.

He struck 10 fours and 13 sixes in a 73-ball innings, his historic performance setting the IPL on the road to success.

Asked for his recollections of the match, McCullum told KKR's official website: "I never really got too nervous throughout my cricket career, but on that occasion, I'll admit I was very nervous. I think none of us really knew what this tournament was going to be like.

"We all loved the idea of it, we loved the fanfare, but all the eyeballs of the cricketing world got turned towards Bangalore that night. I feel so lucky and privileged to have had the opportunity [to be a part of that spectacle].

"You talk about sliding doors, and moments in your careers and in lives. That night, my life changed completely in the space of those three hours or actually, even an hour, hour and a half.

"Why was I the one who got that opportunity to be able to go and face [the] first [delivery] with Sourav Ganguly? How did I get a chance to play in the first game, have the first opportunity to bat in such a huge tournament for world cricket?

"How was I even able to grab that opportunity? How much luck did I have along the way? Honestly, I don't know the answers to any of these, but what I do know is that it changed my life forever.

"It changed my family's life forever, and I feel very blessed and very humble and very lucky. What I did that night was something I didn't think I was capable of achieving. I couldn't have done it without my team-mates, that's 100 per cent sure. It was just a surreal moment in time where you just look back and say, 'How lucky was I?'

"I was just a young kid back then, so I was so in awe of [co-owner and Bollywood star] Shah Rukh Khan who was such a mega star.

"I was so out of my depth even just around the superstars in my cricket team, let alone the megastar who owned our cricket team! I don't remember many reactions in detail, but what I do remember is what Sourav Ganguly said to me that night.

"Dada said, 'Your life is changed forever', and I didn't quite know what he meant at the time, but [in hindsight], I 100 per cent agree with him. Shah Rukh, in the months which followed or the days and the weeks and the months which followed, he said, 'You'll always be with the Knight Riders.'

The inaugural Indian Premier League began with a bang when Brendon McCullum blasted an unbeaten 158 exactly 12 years ago.

McCullum's devastating display of hitting provided a glimpse of what was to come for the world's premier Twenty20 franchise competition.

To mark the anniversary, we take a look at some of sport's great curtain-raisers.

 

Indomitable Lions tame Maradona et al in Milan

As the defending champions, Argentina had the honour of kicking off the 1990 World Cup in Italy and were expected to encounter few difficulties against Cameroon.

The Indomitable Lions may have never won at a World Cup finals before, but 90 minutes later that had been rectified, Francois Omam-Biyik heading in a winner that was embarrassingly shovelled over the line by Nery Pumpido.

That was only half the story, though. Cameroon finished the game with nine men, Benjamin Massing following Andre Kana-Biyik in being sent off for an outrageous lunge on Claudio Caniggia that remains one of the enduring World Cup images.

Take nothing away from Cameroon, though. They went on to reach the quarter-finals - beaten by England - as the world finally took notice of African football.

 

Springboks take first step on road to glory

The honour of playing the first game at the Rugby World Cup typically goes to the hosts, and in 1995 the opening fixture pitted South Africa against reigning champions Australia in Cape Town.

The Springboks had only been permitted to return to international rugby in 1992 once apartheid was abolished, but, roared on by a partisan Newlands crowd that included future great Bryan Habana, they saw off the Wallabies 27-18.

It proved to be the catalyst for South Africa, who would go on to be crowned World Cup winners, a victory that did much to unite a nation divided for so long.

McCullum's IPL masterclass

T20 was still in its infancy in 2008 when Kolkata Knight Riders opener McCullum came to the crease, and there was little indication of what was to come when the New Zealander failed to score off his first six balls faced.

He soon got his eye in. McCullum would go on to smash 158 off 73 balls, including 13 sixes and 10 fours, as the Knight Riders cruised to a 140-run win against Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was a better start than even the IPL architects could have hoped for.

Only five men have recorded higher scores than McCullum's knock that day, but none have been as important as the display which showed the IPL was a force rather than a farce.

 

Lleyton Blewitt at Wimbledon

Lleyton Hewitt stepped onto Centre Court on June 23, 2003 as the defending Wimbledon champion to face world number 203 Ivo Karlovic.

The Australian demolished his 6ft 10ins opponent in a 19-minute first set, which he took 6-1, but Karlovic, playing in his first grand slam, flipped the script.

A 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-4 victory represented 24-year-old Karlovic's 11th Tour win as Hewitt became just the second man to lose in the first round at Wimbledon as a defending champion.

 

Patriots are Hunt-ed down in 2017

The defending Super Bowl champions have had the honour of kicking off the NFL regular season since 2004 and there was another championship banner being unveiled in Foxborough on September 7, 2017.

Pre-game talk surrounded the possibility of the New England Patriots going 19-0. The Kansas City Chiefs had other ideas, though, routing Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in their own backyard in a 42-27 success as rookie running back Kareem Hunt went off for 246 yards from scrimmage.

Belichick and Brady bounced back and New England finished 13-3 before making another Super Bowl, where Nick Foles and the 'underdog' Philadelphia Eagles lifted the Lombardi Trophy in Minnesota.

For the Indian Premier League and NFL legend Peyton Manning, April 18 is when it all began.

Twelve years ago the world's premier Twenty20 franchise cricket tournament began with a bang as Brendon McCullum delivered a thrilling example of the format's appeal.

A decade earlier, the Indianapolis Colts made a decision that would alter the franchise's fortunes, for the better, when they selected quarterback Manning.

We take a look at the most notable sporting moments to have occurred on April 18 in years gone by.

 

1998 - Colts opt for Manning over Leaf

Heading into the 1998 NFL Draft there was little to separate Tennessee quarterback Manning and Washington State signal caller Ryan Leaf in many experts' eyes.

The Colts had the first overall pick and chose Manning, who would lead them to 11 playoff appearances and two Super Bowls - their victory over the Chicago Bears in the first resulting in the franchise's first Lombardi Trophy since they relocated from Baltimore.

Manning ended his career in Indianapolis with a glut of franchise records whereas Leaf, who was drafted directly behind him to the San Diego Chargers, proved to be one of the NFL Draft's biggest busts, playing in just 25 games.

 

1999 - 'The Great One' bows out

The crowd at Madison Square Garden said farewell to an NHL legend as 'The Great One' Wayne Gretzky played the 1,487th and final game of his decorated career.

He scored his 2,857th point - an assist - as his New York Rangers suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Gretzky remains the leading scorer in NHL history and at the time of his retirement he held 61 league records.

 

2008 - McCullum stars in IPL's curtain-raiser

The IPL need not have worried about fireworks for their opening ceremony as they duly came from the bat of a New Zealander once the action began.

McCullum smashed an incredible 158 not out off 73 balls as Kolkata Knight Riders obliterated Royal Challengers Bangalore by 140 runs in the first ever IPL match.

The only man to better that total in IPL history is Chris Gayle, who became the first to surpass 10,000 runs in T20 cricket on April 18, 2017.

2008 - SuperSonics relocation gets the NBA owners' seal of approval 

April 18 is a dark day for Seattle sports fans as it was when they learned NBA owners had voted in favour of moving the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City.

Just five days after the Sonics had played what proved to be their final game in Seattle, 28 of the 30 owners approved a move to OKC, where the team became the Thunder.

Professional basketball has not returned to Seattle since, while a Thunder team featuring Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden reached the 2012 NBA Finals, where they were beaten by the LeBron James-led Miami Heat.

The 2020 Indian Premier League season has been suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed the decision on Thursday, with the governing body adding the campaign will only commence "when it is safe and appropriate to do so".

The latest edition of the Twenty20 tournament was due to begin on March 29, only to be postponed as the country was placed under a travel ban for all international flights until April 14.

India's prime minister Narendra Modi extended the national lockdown to May 3 earlier this week, leading to the BCCI announcing a further delay in proceedings.

"Due to the evolving global health concerns regarding COVID-19 and lockdown measures implemented by the government of India to contain the spread of the pandemic, the IPL governing council of the BCCI has decided that the IPL 2020 season will be suspended till further notice," the BCCI said.

The health and safety of the nation and everyone involved in our great sport remains our top priority and as such, the BCCI along with the franchise owners, broadcaster, sponsors and all the stakeholders acknowledge that the IPL 2020 season will only commence when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

"The BCCI will continue to monitor and review the situation regarding a potential start date in close partnership with all of its stakeholders and will continue to take guidance from the government of India, state governments and other state regulatory bodies."

Media reports in India had suggested organisers may look to shift the entire season to October and November instead.

However, such a move could only be made if the International Cricket Council cancels the Twenty20 World Cup, which is due to take place at a similar time in Australia.

Pat Cummins revealed he is in regular contact with Kolkata Knight Riders over the postponed Indian Premier League season, which may yet be moved to later in 2020.

The latest edition of the tournament was due to begin on March 29 with a rematch of last year's final between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the IPL - along with all other major sporting events - on hold.

India has a travel ban in place for all international flights until April 14, meaning Australian fast bowler Cummins remains in his homeland as he waits for an update on the situation.

Media reports in India have suggested organisers may shift the campaign to take place in October and November instead, though such a move could only be made if the International Cricket Council decides to cancel the Twenty20 World Cup, which is due to take place at a similar time in Australia.

"Everything is changing, literally every single day," Cummins said during a video conference call with reporters on Friday. "The last I spoke to them (the Knight Riders), they said they're still really confident and hopeful it will be on at some stage.

"They obviously haven't cancelled it or anything like that yet. It's still a bit of a holding pattern, so we're in contact with our teams every few days.

"Obviously everyone is still really keen for it to go ahead, but the priority is to minimise risk of this spreading.

"It's going to be pretty tight, I think the travel ban (in India) is in place until April 14, so I don't expect anything too soon to happen."

While disappointed at not being able to play for the Knight Riders right now, Cummins - who became the IPL's most expensive overseas signing at December's auction - is making the most of the unexpected break following a hectic 12 months.

The bowler was part of Australia's squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and then also the Ashes series that followed, while he was a regular in all formats throughout a busy summer schedule on home soil.

"The preference would be to be over there (at the IPL) playing, but I think the silver lining is we do get a bit of a break," Cummins told the media.

"We're lucky in cricket, that it [the IPL] is right at the end of the season. We've played basically our whole season out, except for the last couple of games (against New Zealand) and we're always looking for those small breaks to refresh.

"But it almost feels like the start of an off-season at the moment, albeit we're all training by ourselves at home rather than going to the team gym."

The owners of Indian Premier League franchises have discussed the possibility of staging games behind closed doors this year, according to Manoj Badale.

The 13th edition of the world's premier Twenty20 competition was due to begin this week, but it was postponed until April 15 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Badale, one of the co-owners of Rajasthan Royals, revealed one of the mooted options has been contesting fixtures without fans present, which he feels may be a necessary evil.

"Both conversations between the owners and the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India], that's already been discussed," Badale told BBC 5 live.

"As with the English Premier League, the atmosphere is a huge part of the spectacle, but, again, these are unprecedented times and sport needs to be put in the right perspective overall.

"If the way of ensuring the cricket economy survives is by playing behind closed doors, so be it."

There have been only 1,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India, fewer than Luxembourg.

So, while staging the IPL in the coming weeks would seem unfathomable to many in Europe, Badale said there is still a belief the tournament could be held in two months' time.

"In India the COVID phenomenon has only really just landed so when we have our owners' conference calls, there's still an expectation that there may be a way of the games being played in June," he added.

"Personally I can't see it happening until much later in the year."

That would have an impact on an already congested cricket calendar, especially as the T20 World Cup is due to start in October.

Yet Badale emphasised the financial value of the IPL to the sport.

"Fundamentally, to the cricket economy - not just to the Indian cricket economy, but to the global cricket economy - the IPL is incredibly important," he said.

"Not just what it means for players, but what it means for the supply chain that a $600m-a-year tournament creates."

Sunday was due to see the start of the Indian Premier League in 2020, with champions Mumbai Indians scheduled to take on Chennai Super Kings in a repeat of last year's final.

It was to be the first of 56 group games during the 13th season, the success of the lucrative Twenty20 competition showing no signs of slowing up despite pretenders springing up all over the world hoping to find the same magic formula for success.

However, the coronavirus outbreak put paid to the best-laid plans.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced a postponement until April 15 initially, yet it remains to be seen when – perhaps even if – the campaign will begin, considering the health crisis that is unfolding around the globe.

Still need your IPL fix, though? Why not enjoy a leisurely trip down memory lane to recall some of the notable moments in the tournament's history.

Jos Buttler remains hopeful the 2020 Indian Premier League season will still go ahead, even if an April 15 start date is looking increasingly unlikely.

The latest edition of the IPL was due to begin on March 29, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India pushed the start date back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler, who was part of the England squad who flew home early from Sri Lanka due to the COVID-19 outbreak, is due to play for Rajasthan Royals once again.

Appearing on a Sky Sports podcast with former internationals Rob Key, Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton, the 29-year-old revealed he is yet to hear when - or indeed if - the tournament will start, but is optimistic even a shortened campaign may be possible this year.

"Nothing really at the moment," he replied when asked by Hussain if he was aware of any further updates on the situation.

"We saw that initially that it is going to be postponed until April 15, but at the moment everything seems very indefinite. It's hard to see this changing in the immediate future, so I don't see that as a possibility.

"But, as we know, things can hopefully change for the positive as well.

"That's such a massive tournament for world cricket, so hopefully there becomes a situation where some of it – or a shortened tournament – can go ahead."

England's tour of Sri Lanka was cut short midway through a warm-up fixture ahead of the first of two Tests against their hosts.

Buttler and his team-mates are now at home instead, though the 29-year-old is capitalising on some unexpected time off during his busy schedule.

"For me, actually, I'm just trying to make the most of this time and give myself a bit of a break, a mental break, and enjoy some time at home," he said.

The world's leading sporting competitions have been halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With almost 160,000 confirmed cases of the virus and close to 6,000 deaths, athletes across the globe are waiting to learn when they will return to work.

We take a look at the provisional return dates set out so far.
 

BASKETBALL

The NBA came to a sudden stop when a Utah Jazz player - later revealed to be Rudy Gobert - tested positive on Wednesday, and league commissioner Adam Silver warned the hiatus would "be most likely at least 30 days".

CRICKET

International cricket has been pushed back, but there are no firm dates as things stand for rescheduled matches. England's two-match Test tour of Sri Lanka was called off midway through a warm-up match, while the ODI series between India and South Africa was postponed after the first of three matches was washed out. Australia won an opening ODI against New Zealand behind closed doors, but the remaining two 50-over matches were delayed, along with a three-match Twenty20 series. There is at least a provisional date for the Indian Premier League to belatedly start: April 15, pushed back from March 29.

FOOTBALL

European football is at a standstill, with the Champions League among the elite-level competitions suspended. UEFA is set to meet to discuss the future of that tournament and Euro 2020 this week, while FIFA has advised postponements of upcoming international fixtures, for which clubs are no longer required to release their players. The Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A are all paused at least until April 3 although the Bundesliga has only called off one matchweek as things stand, while Ligue 1 is off "until further notice".

GOLF

The PGA Tour initially announced a three-week suspension, with The Players Championship stopped after its opening round. The Masters - won in 2019 by Tiger Woods - was therefore set to mark the Tour's return on April 9, but organisers soon announced the first major of the year would also be postponed. The RBC Heritage on April 16 is the next scheduled tournament. Organisers are planning "regular status updates in the coming weeks" amid "a very fluid situation that requires constant review, communication, and transparency".

MOTORSPORT

The Formula One season is still to start after races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China were postponed or cancelled. The Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 remains on at this stage, however, while managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn has suggested the calendar could be reshuffled, with races held in August. NASCAR has postponed events in Atlanta and Miami this and next weekend, and all IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

RUGBY

Rugby league has largely been able to continue both in England and in Australia, but the same is not true of rugby union. Six Nations matches were among the first to fall by the wayside amid the crisis in Italy, with the Azzurri seeing matches against both Ireland and England postponed until later in the year. France versus Ireland was off, too, while Scotland's trip to Wales belatedly followed suit. Club action has ground to a halt, with Super Rugby finally paused this weekend and no return imminent.

TENNIS

After Indian Wells and then the Miami Open were cancelled, the ATP Tour announced its suspension up to and including the week of April 20. The WTA Tour preferred to call off individual events, but the schedule is now clear for five weeks. It was still to make a decision on the European clay-court season. The Fed Cup finals and play-offs - set for mid-April - have been pushed back, meanwhile, with the ITF vowing to address any impact the postponement may have on players' eligibility for Tokyo 2020.

OTHERS

Despite chaos surrounding various sports across the globe, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe says the country is still planning for the Olympic Games in Tokyo to go ahead as scheduled in July. The London Marathon and the Boston Marathon will both still go ahead this year, but with revised dates of October 4 and September 14, respectively. The Giro d'Italia will be postponed and a new date for the race will not be announced until at least April 3 when a decree in Italy banning sport ends. The NBA is not the only American competition to be disrupted, meanwhile, with the 2020 MLB season moved back "at least two weeks" from March 26, and the NHL campaign paused indefinitely.

The Indian Premier League has been suspended until April 15 as a precautionary measure, due to the continued spread of coronavirus.

A host of leagues and competitions, across multiple sports and continents, have been cancelled or postponed this week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IPL was due to begin on March 29, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has now pushed that start date back by two and a half weeks.

A statement from Indian cricket's governing body read: "The BCCI has decided to suspend IPL 2020 until 15th April 2020, as a precautionary measure against the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

"The BCCI is concerned and sensitive about all its stakeholders, and public health in general, and it is taking all necessary steps to ensure that all people related to IPL including fans have a safe cricketing experience.

"The BCCI will work closely with the government of India along with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and all other relevant central and state government departments in this regard."

While the IPL will be delayed, the Pakistan Super League is set to continue as scheduled, for the time being at least. However, a host of players - predominantly from England - have confirmed they will take no further part in the competition.

Following a conference call with team owners, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) released a statement on Friday, which read: "The HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 will proceed as planned, including tonight’s Multan Sultans versus Peshawar Zalmi match, which will commence at the National Stadium at 8pm.

"The match will be played behind closed doors and only event accredited personnel will be allowed to enter the venue. All players and players support personnel have been given the option to withdraw from the HBL PSL 2020 should they wish to do so."

Alex Hales, Rilee Rossouw, James Vince, Tom Banton, Carlos Brathwaite, Liam Dawson, Lewis Gregory, Liam Livingstone, Jason Roy and Tymal Mills were confirmed as the players to have already pulled out, along with Peshawar coach James Foster.

The PCB's statement added: "No player has to date tested positive for coronavirus. The PCB will continue to assess and monitor the situation and make decisions as appropriate in consultation with the team owners.

"No discussion has taken place as yet with regards to the upcoming Pakistan Cup one-day tournament and home international matches against Bangladesh."

PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said: "As stated previously, we will continue to assess and review the situation and will not hesitate to make what we believe are the right decisions for everyone involved.

"Ensuring that the players feel comfortable remains paramount to the PCB. As of now, it is important to emphasise and clarify that the main concern of many of the 10 players and a coach, who have chosen to return home, revolves around avoiding a potential situation where they might become stranded either due to flight cancellations or border closures in their own countries."

Jofra Archer is "progressing as expected" as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right elbow and is set to make a return to action for Sussex in May.

The pace bowler suffered the injury during England’s tour of South Africa, featuring in just the first of four Test matches before withdrawing from the Twenty20 series against the Proteas.

In a statement released on its website, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced Archer has undergone a repeat MRI scan and, following a review by the medical team, is focused on being fit for the first Test against West Indies in June.

The 24-year-old, who will again be assessed in April, had hinted at potentially being fit in time to play in the Indian Premier League for the Rajasthan Royals, but will instead make his comeback in the County Championship.

"Following a repeat MRI scan undertaken this week in London, Jofra Archer has been reviewed by the ECB medical team and is progressing as expected from the stress fracture to his right elbow sustained during the South Africa tour in January," the statement read.

"He will have a further scan in mid-April before a return to competitive cricket.

"Archer's focus will be playing for England, starting with the West Indies Test series, which commences in early June.

"He will play County Championship cricket in May for Sussex to ensure his preparation is optimal for Test cricket."

Archer helped England win the Cricket World Cup last year and has played in seven Tests so far in his international career, taking 30 wickets in the longest format at an average of 27.40.

He recently signed a two-year contract extension with Sussex, saying: "I am very happy to commit long term to the club."

Australia batsman David Warner has been reinstated as Sunrisers Hyderabad captain for the 2020 Indian Premier League season.

Warner will take over as skipper from Kane Williamson in a tournament that gets under way on March 29.

The former Australia vice-captain will never again be considered for leadership roles at international level due to his part in the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering scandal but is set to resume captaincy duties for Sunrisers.

Warner was the leading run-scorer in the 2019 IPL and skippered the title-winning side four years ago.

The opener said in a video posted by Sunrisers on Twitter: "I'm thrilled to be given the captaincy for this coming IPL. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity once again to lead the team.

"I'd like to thank Kane and Bhuvi [Bhuvneshwar Kumar] for the way you've led throughout the last couple of years.

"You guys have done an outstanding job and I'll be leaning on you for support and your insight.

"And to the management, thanks once again for giving me this opportunity and I'm sure I'll be doing my very, very best to try and lead us to lifting that trophy once again."

Rajasthan Royals remain hopeful that Jofra Archer can play in the Indian Premier League despite the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealing he would miss the tournament.

The ECB on Friday stated that paceman Archer has been ruled out of England's Test tour of Sri Lanka and the IPL due to a low-grade stress fracture of his right elbow.

Archer is due to commence a rehabilitation programme with the ECB medical team with a view to facing West Indies in a three-match Test series in June.

Yet the Royals, who signed the quick for 7.2 crore (£800,000) in the 2018 IPL auction, have not given up hope of Archer playing in a tournament that gets under way at the end of March and finishes on May 24.

Rajasthan head coach Andrew McDonald told ESPNcricinfo: "It is a blow but these things always confront teams. These are the setbacks that you have to contend with.

"First and foremost, our thoughts are with Jofra. Getting an elbow injury when you are at the top of your game is far from ideal, but watching him from afar it's been great to see what he's been able to achieve.

"We'll see what happens. The ECB have been reasonably solid on ruling him out of the IPL, but we still hold out some hope that he may recover.

"We'll get those details over the next 24-48 hours as to the extent of the injury, and we'll work with the ECB as to what that may or may not look like.

"I'm sure he's keen [to play in the IPL]. He loves playing for Rajasthan, but injuries happen, and until more details come to light, we will always hold out hope for a player of that quality.

"It doesn't look good at the moment, but we won't be in any rush to replace him at this moment in time."

MS Dhoni is set to play on for Indian Premier League side Chennai Super Kings in 2021.

The pledge came from Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the former ICC chairman and BCCI president who is managing director of India Cements, the team's owners.

Dhoni has not played for India since last year's Cricket World Cup, with the 38-year-old having occasionally made himself unavailable for selection at times since the tournament.

Speculation has since been rife over Dhoni's future ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup, which takes place later this year.

However, Srinivasan has moved to end any doubt over Dhoni's place with IPL side Super Kings, insisting the wicketkeeper-batsman will be retained next season.

"People keep saying when will he... how long will he play, etc," Srinivasan told reporters when asked about Dhoni, who has been left off the BCCI's list of centrally contracted players.

Srinivasan, speaking at an Entrepreneurs' Organization event in Chennai, added: "He will play. I can assure you. He will play this year. Next year he will go the auction; he will be retained there. So there is no doubt in anybody's mind."

Dhoni previously led India to two world titles – the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 World Cup – making 90 Test appearances, featuring in 350 ODIs and playing 98 T20 internationals.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons is not be concerned that the life-changing contract awarded to Sheldon Cottrell to play for the Kings XI Punjab in this season’s Indian Premier League (IPL) will impact his cricket.

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