Virat Kohli calls on India to show character in final Test against South Africa

India captain Virat Kohli wants to see his side pull out all the stops to get that elusive win.
Updated 23 January 2018
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Virat Kohli calls on India to show character in final Test against South Africa

JOHANNESBURG: The last two Tests South Africa played at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, against England and Sri Lanka, lasted less than three days, with the pace bowlers dominant. If the green-tinged surface on view the day before the game is any indication, batsmen on both sides face another arduous examination in the final game of a series that South Africa have already wrapped up.
India, who will retain their No. 1 ranking if they avoid a third defeat, were sifting through the positives on match eve.
“Not many times in overseas Tests have we picked up 40 wickets in two games,” the team captain Virat Kohli said.
“I said before the series that whichever team bats better would win. That has been the case.
“But it’s never a bad time to start anything. The batsmen are looking forward to rectifying the mistakes made in the first two Tests. In times that have not gone our way, if we can change things around, that will build characters and individuals. That can be a milestone for a lot of guys going forward, if they can step up in this game and be the difference.”
India will ponder the idea of playing with an all-pace attack, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar coming in for Ravi Ashwin. There could also be acknowledgment that the emphasis on “current form” has not really worked, as Rohit Sharma — whose struggles outside India show no sign of ending — makes way for Ajinkya Rahane, the vice-captain.
Kohli scored 119 and 96 at this ground in 2013, in a match that India bossed for four days before AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis nearly pulled off the improbable pursuit of 458.
“We would focus on the things that worked for us last time,” Kohli said.
“Although there’s more grass, the pace and bounce would probably be similar. We would love to have another situation where we can capitalize and bring the Test match toward us rather than let it slip away.”
For Du Plessis, whose team have never swept India in a Test series before, the stress was on more of the same, especially the stranglehold the Proteas’ bowlers have had on India’s top order.
“The last Test we played here was fantastic,” he said, after expressing amazement at India not having lost a game here in four attempts.
“Their bowling is good, a very good seam attack. If you have that, you can compete. We just have to make sure we keep their batsmen quiet.”
If the grass takes Keshav Maharaj, the spinner, out of the equation, South Africa will add either the all-round skills of Andile Phehlukwayo or play Theunis de Bruyn to bolster the batting. Either way, there will be no letting up, not with a series against Australia looming.
“Once again, India will come back with a point to prove,” said Du Plessis.
“They’re a proud team, and we’re expecting a good challenge. We have to keep doing the things we’ve been doing well. Batting in partnerships, that’s a key factor in conditions like this. If you do get in, string together a partnership.”
South Africa have, and they have the series spoils to show for it.


INDIAN SUMMER? 
India may only be playing for pride but ARAB NEWS picks the three things Kohli and Co. need to do to get that elusive win in South Africa.
SORT OUT THE FALSE STARTS 
In four innings so far, India’s opening combination has seen off 28, 47, 57 and 47 balls. But in conditions where defying the new ball is one of the primary criteria for victory, the highest partnership has been 30. Shikhar Dhawan was dropped after Cape Town, while Murali Vijay and KL Rahul have yet to replicate their run-scoring feats of the past 12 months. If they get a start, Virat Kohli and Co. could cash in. If Kohli comes in at 30 for two, South Africa will once again have the door on its hinges, ready to be barged down.
DO NOT WASTE THE NEW BALL
At Newlands, India had South Africa 12 for three, before losing both control and discipline with the ball. At Centurion, on a flatter pitch, they were tidy without looking especially threatening. They need more wickets upfront to put South Africa under serious pressure. In 2006, when India won here, it was S Sreesanth’s superb swing bowling that set up the victory. Bringing back the accurate Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the best exponent of swing in the current side, would be a start.
CATCHES WIN MATCHES
Ravi Ashwin bowled beautifully to take five wickets at Centurion. But he also had four catches dropped off his bowling. Parthiv Patel, deputising for the injured Wriddhiman Saha, did not even go for a couple of chances that went between him and first slip. Opportunities have also been dropped in the slip cordon, whose personnel keeps changing with players entering and exiting the XI. Without grabbing their chances, India will struggle to take anything from the series.


Ronaldo faces multi-million tax fraud fine in Madrid court

Updated 22 January 2019
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Ronaldo faces multi-million tax fraud fine in Madrid court

MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo is returning to Madrid for a court date on Tuesday in which he could be fined 18.8 million euros ($21.4 million) for tax fraud as part of a deal reached with the Spanish taxman.
As part of an agreement arranged in June with the former Real Madrid hero’s lawyers, prosecutors are also asking that the Portuguese attacker, who last summer left the Spanish capital for Italian champions Juventus, be handed a 23-month jail sentence.
However Ronaldo would not spend a day in prison as sentences of up to two years are generally not enforced in Spain for first-time offenders in non-violent crimes.
The hearing, due to start at 9:50 am (0850 GMT), is expected to last just a few minutes as the deal is officially presented to the judge.
He in turn will give the final sentence on Tuesday or the coming days, according to a spokesman for the court in northern Madrid.
Ronaldo will not be given special treatment when he arrives and will have to climb up the courthouse steps amid a likely media scrum despite the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s lawyers asking he be allowed to enter the building by car to avoid the spotlight.
The court president refused the request, saying that despite his “great fame,” he wouldn’t “compromise security” at the building, according to a court document.
His request to appear via videoconference was also denied.

Denial
Madrid prosecutors opened a probe into Ronaldo in June 2017 and he was questioned in July that same year.
“I have never hidden anything, nor have I had the intention of evading taxes,” he told the court then, according to a statement from the sports agency which represents him, Gestifute.
Prosecutors accuse him of having used companies in low-tax foreign jurisdictions — notably the British Virgin Islands and Ireland — to avoid having to pay the tax due in Spain on his image rights between 2011 and 2014.
His lawyers said there had been a difference in interpretation of what was and was not taxable in Spain.
The deal between Spain’s taxman and his lawyers has allowed Ronaldo to avoid having to sit through a long trial that could have damaged his image and seen him handed a heftier sentence.
Ronaldo is not the only footballer to have fallen foul of Spain’s tax authorities.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, once Ronaldo’s big La Liga rival, paid a two-million-euro fine in 2016 in his own tax wrangle and received a 21-month jail term.
The prison sentence was later reduced to a further fine of 252,000 euros, equivalent to 400 euros per day of the original term.

Accused of rape
But Ronaldo’s legal wrangles won’t be over after a probe was opened in the United States in October after a former American model accused him of raping her in Las Vegas in 2009.
Police in the western US city recently asked Italian authorities for a DNA sample from the footballer.
Ronaldo has always strenuously denied the accusations.
In a New Year’s Eve interview with Portuguese sports daily Record, he said he had a “calm conscience” and was “confident that everything will very soon be clarified.”