Virat Kohli calls for India calm ahead of Pretoria Test

India's captain Virat Kohli looks on during their training at Centurion Park in Pretoria. (AP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Virat Kohli calls for India calm ahead of Pretoria Test

PRETORIA: Virat Kohli has called on his India side to keep clam as they aim to bounce back from their 72-run defeat in Cape Town last week.
Kohli will lead the tourists out on the field for the second Test at Supersport Park in Centurion, a stronghold where South Africa have won 17 and lost just one of 21 matches.
As if that was not daunting enough India know they have to improve against the world’s best pace attack having been skittled out for 209 and 135 at Newlands.
But the India captain said this was not the time to panic and that playing an extra batsman wasn’t necessarily the answer. “People need to apply themselves much better whether we are playing five batsmen or six,” Kohli said.
“If you are playing six batters, it doesn’t mean you can afford to go out and play loose shots.
 “We might do something different, but there is definitely no need to panic. As a batting line-up, we have played well for a long time. We just need to adapt and apply ourselves better when we go out to bat.”
Shikhar Dhawan, who made 16 and 16 last week, is almost certain to sit this one out, but there was no clarity on which two openers India would go with. KL Rahul alongside Murali Vijay is the obvious choice, but given the team management’s preference for a left-right combination, there could even be a shock recall for Parthiv Patel, who last played against England in December 2016.
 If he does play, then India can afford to add an additional middle-order batsmen, with Ajinkya Rahane likely to be pencilled in at No. 5. That would mean the axe for Wriddhiman Saha, fewer than five days after he completed an Indian record of ten catches in a match.
For Faf du Plessis and South Africa, it is a straight choice between Chris Morris, the all-rounder, and Lungi Ngidi, a promising tearaway fast bowler, to replace the crocked Dale Steyn. Morris would strengthen the batting, but tends to leak runs with the ball.
“Before yesterday, I hadn’t seen him bowl at all,” said Du Plessis when asked about Ngidi. “I believe there is a lot of talent there. He bowls a heavy ball, and I’m excited to have him in the group.”
Du Plessis, who grew up in the area, expected the pitch to be fast and bouncy, but accepted that the harsh sun of the past week had burnt off much of the grass. He was also not about to discount India’s chances. “Their bowlers took 20 wickets, the only part when we were a little bit better was we got more runs in the first innings,” he said of the first Test. “I expect another huge performance from them. For us it’s about making sure we don’t take a step back. If you do that against a strong team like India, they will pounce on you.”


‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

Updated 22 min 35 sec ago
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‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

LONDON: Felipe Massa has acknowledged the possibility of Formula E becoming more popular than its more illustrious rival Formula One, ahead of his debut at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia today.
The Brazilian ace swapped the roaring engines of F1 for the blistering battery power of Formula E this season, and told Arab News that the idea was not “impossible.”
“On overtaking, Formula 1, that’s a difficult question to answer. But what can I say, is that it’s not impossible. We just need to wait and see how things go, (whether) it is ‘when’ or ‘if,’ but it’s definitely not impossible,” he said.
“Formula E and electric cars are becoming ever-more present, but it will definitely be the future, even in the short-term future.
“It (the technology) has already arrived in some countries and will in other countries, too, it is the future. I think Formula E has used that mentality, even five years ago to build this (motorsport) category,” he added.
Massa, who raced for 15 seasons in Formula One and won 11 grands prix, was also positive about the potential of Formula E as it continues to expand after its inception in 2011 and inaugural season in 2014.
“It will take a little bit of time, it’s not easy to get things perfect straight away, but look at the past two years and how much the championship is growing.
“When I say growing, it’s not just with the quality of the drivers, but also with manufacturers’ teams and companies, who are really getting behind the sport.
“Look how many companies they are signing on as sponsors, on many different levels, even companies that sell fuel,” he said.
“We are even racing (this weekend) in a country known as an oil country. So, I think this shows how much this championship is growing.”
Massa also agreed with comments made by F1 director Ross Brawn, who recently said that the highest level of motorsport had become too predictable.
“Only certain racers can win in Formula One, but Formula E is unpredictable and a good example (of that) is that the winners in all past seasons have been different drivers,” he told Arab News.
The affable driver said he is relishing the new challenge that Formula E will pose to his skills and abilities, adding that with the exception of certain parts of the Monaco and Mexico circuits, each track will be new to him.
“I like a challenge, there is a lot to learn and a lot to test myself with and learning the car, working with the team,” he said.
“Even though I’m experienced in motorsport, with my 16 years in Formula One, this is a new test and I will have to start from zero.”
Meanwhile, defending Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne said hearing the words “world champion” after his name was “still cool.”
When asked about the challenge from teammate Andre Lotterer on the other side of the Techeetah garage, the Frenchman was full of praise for the German driver.
“He is absolutely one of the most talented drivers, and I expect him to be on the same level as I am and, for sure, it’s going to be a nice competition between us.
“It will be good for the team, as that will push everybody, and that is what we want as a team.”
The former F1 driver was complimentary about Formula E’s new “attack mode,” but voiced concerns about the danger the system posed to drivers on corners on the challenging Ad Diriyah circuit this weekend.