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UAE duo ‘stood to make US$272,000’ in successful fix

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The two UAE players provisionally suspended for alleged breaches of the ICC anti-corruption code stood to make up to US$272,000 (approx.) if they successfully corrupted the games in the upcoming T20 World Cup qualifiers.

ESPNcricinfo understands that the players had been engaged in talks to carry out fixes – ranging from a session to a result – in three of the matches in the qualifiers, which begins on Friday with the UAE playing in the day’s second fixture in Abu Dhabi.

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The operations that have led to provisional suspensions of captain Mohammad Naveed and senior pro Shaiman Anwar was so planned that, it is understood, the players had contracts drawn up for the amounts that would be paid depending on the nature of the fix.

It is understood that investigations by the ICC’s ACU revealed that both Naveed and Anwar had been engaged by corruptors to fix the results and or session(s) in those three matches; the amounts involved were on a sliding scale of up to around US$272,000.

The ACU had been monitoring the players in question since the UAE’s tour of Zimbabwe in April this year. Among others being surveilled was Mehardeep Chhayakar, an alleged corruptor, originally from India, who has been involved with cricket in Ajman and is apparently known in gambling circles as “Gary”.

It was during that series in April, played in Harare, that Chhayakar is believed to have attempted to induce Qadeer Ahmed, the third UAE cricketer to be provisionally suspended along with Naveed and Anwar, into fixing in one of the matches.

Chhayakar, along with three other Indian men – all alleged corruptors – were detained by local police in Harare on corruption allegations at the time but released later. The ACU continued to keep a close eye on the movements of the four.

On October 6, the ACU brought in five persons for questioning, including the players charged today. It is understood that the ACU has kept the local police in the UAE informed about the developments.

The ACU handed the charges in person to Naveed and Anwar earlier on Wednesday; Qadeer is currently away in Pakistan while Chhayakar’s whereabouts are unknown.



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Virat Kohli: MS Dhoni played a big role in my becoming captain

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Virat Kohli has credited MS Dhoni with playing a significant role in anointing him as his successor as India captain.

Kohli took over as the full-time Test captain when Dhoni retired from the format midway through India’s tour of Australia in 2014-15, and later became captain across formats when Dhoni quit his limited-overs post in early 2017.

Kohli said the process was a gradual one of “earning trust” over several years.

“I was always inclined towards taking responsibility,” Kohli said of his early days in the India dressing room, during an Instagram chat with team-mate R Ashwin. “After that it was all about just wanting to play, wanting to be in the XI regularly. I didn’t play all the games, but I wanted to be discussed, that ‘whether this guy is good enough to play or not.’ That is a transition that slowly happens.

“Then with your interest in the game you start talking to the captain regularly. I was always in MS’s ear, standing next to him, saying, ‘We can do this, we can do that.’ He would deny a lot of things but he would discuss a lot of things as well. I think he got a lot of confidence that I can do this after him.

“A large portion of me becoming captain was also to do with him observing me for a long period of time. It can’t just happen that he goes and the selectors say, ‘Okay you become captain.’ Obviously the guy who is there takes responsibility and says, ‘Okay I think this is the next guy. I will tell you how it is going.’ And then slowly that transition is formed. He played a big role in that, and that trust you have to build over six-seven years. It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process.”

Kohli was first appointed vice-captain for the 2012 Asia Cup, which followed India’s tour of Australia for a Test series and a tri-series in 2011-12. In a tour that otherwise went poorly for India, who were blanked 4-0 in the Tests and failed to reach the tri-series final, Kohli emerged with distinction. He scored his maiden Test century in the fourth match at Adelaide, becoming the only India batsman to reach three figures in that series. In the ODIs, he made his then highest score in the format , smashing 133* off just 86 balls as India chased down a target of 321 in 36.4 overs to keep their hopes of making the final alive.

Kohli said that tour helped him become aware of his game and hone it significantly. “I remember that whole season,” he said. “It was from that Test hundred in Adelaide to continuously stringing scores. That was a phase of six to eight months where I really realised a lot about my own game and came into my own as far as my skills were concerned.

“I was very competitive but I wasn’t very sure or in control of what I wanted to do before. When you come in new, you’re still figuring out how to go about it. At the international stage you want to be feared, you want to be respected. You don’t want to walk in and hear, ‘He’s one of the youngsters, we’ll just knock him over.’ We all play for that. That was a phase where I started to realise this.”

In the Asia Cup that followed, Kohli made 183 in another tall chase, against Pakistan. He revealed that during this knock, he had negated the threat posed by Saeed Ajmal by treating the offspinner as if he were a legspinner.

“I told myself I’m going to start playing him like a legspinner,” Kohli said. “Because his doosra was quite difficult to face and his offspinner was not that lethal. So I said I’m going to try and hit him over cover consistently, and it just paid off. As soon as I negated his doosra, the potency of his threat became lesser and lesser.

“In that game I scored most of my runs against him through the off side [29 off 10 balls on the off side and 7 off 7 on the leg side]. My only aim was I’m going to make him unsettled with his doosra. He should fear bowling the doosrato me, then I’m on top of my game.”



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Rohit Sharma nominated for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award

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The BCCI has nominated Rohit Sharma for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, India’s highest sporting honour. The board has also nominated India fast bowler Ishant Sharma, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and India woman allrounder Deepti Sharma for the Arjuna award.

Rohit’s Khel Ratna nomination comes on the back of an outstanding 2019 with the bat: 556 runs at an average of 92.66 in five Test matches, all while opening the batting for the first time; and 1657 ODI runs at 57.30, including the unprecedented feat of five centuries at a single World Cup.

If Rohit wins the award, he will become only the fourth cricketer, after Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, to do so.

“We went through a lot of data and considered various parameters before shortlisting the nominees,” Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, said via a media release. “Rohit Sharma has set new benchmarks as a batsman and achieved scores people thought were not possible in the shorter formats of the game. We feel he is worthy of getting the prestigious Khel Ratna award for his commitment, conduct, consistency and his leadership skills.

“Ishant Sharma is the most senior member of the Test squad and his contribution has been vital in Indian team’s long run as the No. 1 Test side. Fast bowlers are prone to injuries and Ishant has had a fair share of them but he has fought hard to be back on the park every time. Shikhar has been consistently scoring at the top and his performances in the ICC events have been significant. Deepti is a genuine allrounder and her contribution to the team has been vital.”



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Kent and Mohammad Nabi agree to cancel T20 Blast deal

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Kent and Mohammad Nabi have mutually agreed to cancel the Afghanistan allrounder’s contract for the 2020 Vitality Blast, due to uncertainty around the English summer caused by Covid-19.

Nabi had been due to return for his second season at Canterbury, having made an impact with bat and ball in 2019. He scored 147 runs at a strike rate of 153.12 to go with eight wickets, as Kent narrowly missed out on a place in the knockout stages.

“There was a lot of excitement around Nabi returning as a Kent Spitfire in 2020, but unfortunately the uncertainty around the cricket schedule during this current crisis means that this isn’t possible this year,” Kent’s director of cricket, Paul Downton, said.

“He was very popular amongst the squad, staff and supporters here last season and it was great to bring his experience to the club first time around. Hopefully there will be an opportunity for Nabi to join us again in the near future.”

All professional cricket has been put on hold in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there are hopes of playing some County Championship games, as well as the T20 Blast from August.



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