India picks veterans; recalls Shami for World T20

Updated 05 February 2016
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India picks veterans; recalls Shami for World T20

NEW DELHI: The hosts India Friday recalled strike bowler Mohammed Shami and named veteran former champions Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh in their squad for the World Twenty20, which begins next month.
Shami has not played for India since last year’s 50 over World Cup after suffering a knee injury and was sent home early from India’s recent tour of Australia with hamstring problems.
But chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil said the 25-year-old had recovered and would be given time to prove his fitness, leaving open the possibility of calling up a late replacement before the final selection deadline.
“We have 30 days to ascertain where Shami is,” Patil told reporters in New Delhi.
“He has recovered, he has resumed bowling. That’s what we know right now.”
Shami had been emerging as India’s premier fast bowler before his injury woes, shining in all three formats of the game.
Given India’s struggles to identify a successor to the recently retired spearhead Zaheer Khan, Shami’s fitness could be key to the host’s chances of winning the tournament for the second time.
Shami’s inclusion was the most eye-catching in a 15-man squad packed with experience and skippered by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who led India to victory in the 2007 inaugural tournament in South Africa.
There had been questions about Dhoni’s future after a disappointing run of scores but critics were silenced when he led India to a 3-0 victory in the recent T20 series against Australia.
Patil refused to be drawn on Dhoni’s long-term future but underlined the Indian board (BCCI) retained complete faith in the 34-year-old, who will also captain the same squad in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh.
“I have repeatedly said that selectors or BCCI, I don’t think we have any right to tell any player when he should retire,” Patil said.
“We have a right to pick (a) player on his performance and fitness. What the player thinks about his future is entirely his decision.
“We have total faith in MSD’s captaincy and that is why the selection committee felt that he is the right person to lead India in the Asia cup and till the T20 world cup. What happens after that we will wait and see.”
Dhoni, who has already relinquished the Test captaincy to Virat Kohli, is widely expected to retire from internationals after the tournament.
The 35-year-old Harbhajan and Yuvraj, 34, are two other veterans of India’s triumph in 2007, the only time the team has won the trophy.
Harbhajan failed to make the starting line-up in the Australia tour but Patil said the off-spinner, who has taken more than 700 international wickets, still had something to offer.
“Unfortunately he didn’t get a chance (in Australia),” he said.
“But selectors and captain and team management have total faith in Harbhajan and the record which has set and the contribution that he has made, not only toward Indian cricket but toward world cricket.”
The only uncapped player in the squad is the left-arm spinner Pawan Negi, who has impressed in the Indian Premier League with his bowling and his powerful lower-order hitting.
India’s first match in the World T20 comes against New Zealand in Nagpur on March 15. They then face arch rivals Pakistan in Dharamsala on March 19. The final is in Kolkata on April 3.
The Asia Cup, which is also a T20 tournament, runs from February 24 to March 6.
Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Pawan Negi and Mohammed Shami.


Virgil van Dijk sets sights on an awesome foursome of trophies for Liverpool

Updated 20 September 2018
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Virgil van Dijk sets sights on an awesome foursome of trophies for Liverpool

LIVERPOOL: Virgil van Dijk wants to create history with Liverpool this season as he set his sights on an unprecedented quadruple of trophies.
The Anfield outfit are full of confidence after recording six successive wins at the start of a season for the first time since 1961.
Having reached the Champions League final in the previous campaign, they opened up this one with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain thanks to an injury-time strike from Roberto Firmino after the French champions had pulled back a two-goal deficit.
While pundits have suggested Liverpool should prioritize the Premier League, van Dijk said they have the belief to do even better.
“Everyone is excited, feeling good, wanted to be part of this,” he said. “We know the season is very long, four competitions to play and we want to win everything. That’s basically our mindset. You need to have ambitions.
“With the size of this club, the people around here and with the history, we want to try to win everything. It’s going to be hard, we know it’s something very difficult to do, but we are going to try. That’s what we are here for.
“I’ve enjoyed every bit since I arrived here and hope to keep going. I want to win things, create memories here and write history as well with all of these boys.”
The Dutch defender also feels rivals will see Liverpool as contenders for the big prizes having overcome Neymar and Co.
“We were not in the [Champions League] final last season for no reason,” he added. “I think we should have already got the respect, but this season is new.
“Everyone starts over and we need to show it in every game. We need to keep going, keep improving, but also enjoy it. It’s the highest stage.
“If you are going to be on the pitch and you don’t believe it [that you can beat teams like this] then you need to stay home. You need to believe in your team. I have the belief. I’m enjoying it. You want to play in these games, you want to play these clubs. I think it’s a great time to be a Liverpool player.
“If you look at the team, the whole squad, players who are not even in there and have so much potential, so much quality, it says a lot about our team.”