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There are no issues between Dhoni and myself: Smith


Steve Smith, who replaced Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the skipper of Pune Supergiants for the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League, clarified on Thursday that there is no bad blood between them.

“There are no issues between MS Dhoni and me. We have shared some messages. MS is very supportive and it doesn’t change my professional relationship with him or anyone else,” Smith said.

He was in the capital along with India’s Ajinkya Rahane and the season’s biggest signing, Ben Stokes, to unveil the Pune Supergiants’ jersey for IPL 2017 and “formally welcome Stokes into the RPS family.”

The change in captaincy appeared to have been prompted by Pune’s ordinary outing last year when they finished seventh in the points table after winning just five of their 14 matches.

Also present on the occasion was Sanjiv Goenka, chairman, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group.

Looking ahead to the IPL after a gruelling Test series, Smith said, “It will be great to have so many great leaders from different countries. It’s a big plus and not a hindrance.”

But he said he would not like to clutter his mind with too many ideas. “I have plenty of guys to talk to, but I will not seek too many opinions. Seeking too many opinions can cloud your own judgement. I want to try and stay as clear as possible.

But yes, if someone sees something and feels the need to point it out to me, they are more than welcome,” Smith said.

When asked to speak on Dhoni’s removal from captaincy and if that would be a deterrent, Goenka sought to clear the air.

“MS is joining us on April 3 in Pune. The team has been in constant touch with him and it is very amicable. A lot has been discussed about captaincy but I can say that Mahi has got one of the sharpest brains. I have worked with him before and I am his biggest fan. There is complete togetherness, complete unity in the team. I see a very good bonhomie.”

On Dhoni, Rahane said, “Whether he is captain or not a player like Dhoni is always inspiration and we get to learn a lot.”

Asked about the reason behind appointing Smith as skipper, team owner Goenka said, “When you appoint a captain you do with full trust and confidence. I have admired the way Steve has led Australia over the last few months.”

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Brad Hodge apologises to Virat Kohli for his comments on Indian skipper’s injury


​Former Australia batsman Brad Hodge, and current coach of Gujarat Lions IPL team, has apologized to Virat Kohli and the Indian fans for his comments on Indian skipper’s shoulder injury. ()

Kohli had pulled out of the series-deciding fourth Test against Australia as he was not 100 percent fit after injuring his shoulder during the third match in Ranchi. Hodge hoped the Indian skipper would not turn out to be like the many cricketers who have “limped” into the lucrative IPL. ()

Reacting to Kohli’s injury, Hodge had said it would be “pretty dirty” of Kohli if he turns out for the IPL opening match as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain against David Warner’s Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 5.

“You’d hope as a sportsman that he’s seriously injured. I’m hopeful, as a Gujarat Lions coach, that when we play RCB in a couple of weeks, that he’s not playing,” Hodge was quoted by ‘Daily Telegraph’ as having told Fox Sports News’ Gameday Live.

“Because if you miss one game of Test match cricket and you’re fronting up the next week for RCB versus whoever, Bangalore, at Chinnaswamy Stadium – you’d be pretty dirty if you did not front up to a Test match and try and win a valuable series against Australia – which has been pretty spiteful as well,” said Hodge who played five Tests and 25 ODIs between 2005 and 2008.

“You would think that your captain would get out there and get among the fight and get in there.”

Hodge hoped the Indian skipper would not turn out to be like the many cricketers who have “limped” into the lucrative IPL.

It’s happened before. Not just Virat but there’s many players that have come up to IPL time and again. look, we know it’s a cash rich tournament, there’s some money up for grabs. He (Kohli) gets paid a helluva lot of money anyway, so it does not matter, but there are certain players that will limp in, to IPL time, to make sure they get there and perform well, because it is an important tournament for everyone around the world.”

The Australians comments drew the ire of many including that of Bollywood legend and Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir, who criticised Hodge on social media.
Hodge on Thursday posted an apology letter on his Twitter account. He said he never wanted to hurt anyone and were just light hearted comments.

Virat Kohli says ‘not friends with Australians’ aimed at couple of individuals


​India captain Virat Kohli and Australia captain Steve Smith have shared a stormy equation during the India vs Australia Border-Gavaskar Trophy.(PTI)
Virat Kohli’s anger with Australia over their repeated jibes reached the tipping point after the Dharamsala Test in Border-Gavskar Trophy. The India captain said he was no longer friends with the team from Down Under.

The coment took the cricket world as several former players said that Kohli’s comment was very un-captain like.

Kohli, who will lead Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL), clarified that his comments were directed at only a couple of individuals and not the whole team.

“My answer at the post match conference has been blown way out of proportion. I did not categorically say the whole Australian team but only a couple of individuals,” Kohli wrote on Twitter.

“I continue to be in good terms with the few guys I know & who I’ve played with at RCB & that doesn’t change.”
Shane Watson, Travis Head and Billy Stanlake are the three Australian players in the Kohli-led RCB.

An Australian reporter had asked, after the Dharamsala Test, if Kohli still considered Steve Smith’s men his friends off the field as he had said at the start of the series.

Virat Kohli replied: “No, it has changed for sure. I thought that was the case but it has changed for sure. As I said in the heat of the battle, you want to be competitive but yeah I have been proven wrong. The thing I said before the first Test, I have certainly been proven wrong and you won’t hear me say that ever again.”

Virat Kohli had stopped short of calling Steve Smith a cheat for his ‘DRS Brain Fade’ moment after which a section of Australian cricketers and their media targeted the India captain. The Daily Telegraph went on to call Virat Kohli “the Donald Trump of world sport.”

Even Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said Kohli “perhaps does not know the spelling of sorry”.