Update on entire IPL 2019 schedule, Dhoni-Pant comparisons and more - Cricket News Today, 12th March 2019

Aadya Sharma

We're back with another edition of Cricket News Today, a segment that provides a summary of cricketing events and news updates from across the world.

The India-Australia ODI clash, the last 50-over series for the hosts before the World Cup, will culminate with the final game at Delhi. Poised at 2-2, the decider at Feroz Shah Kotla promises to be another mouth-watering contest that fans would look forward to.

In the background, the hubbub around the IPL is slowly gaining noise, with the mega T20 extravaganza just half a month away.

Here are some updates from the world of cricket:

#1 General election dates finalised, IPL 2019 schedule to be out soon

RCB will play IPL 2019's first game against CSK

The entire IPL 2019 schedule could be out in a couple of days, according to a report in CricketNext. The schedule for the first two weeks of the T20 tournament had been released earlier, but the rest of the fixtures had been put on hold owing to a logistical clash with the upcoming elections.

An official at IMG, tasked with chalking out the finer details of the scheduling, told CricketNext that second-tier cities such as Rajkot, Indore, Vizag, Dharamshala and Lucknow have been informed about potentially turning IPL hosts if the situation demands.

“Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab can host all of their games potentially. However, we have to be fair to all franchises. If some of the other teams are playing 2-3 games at alternate ‘home’ venues, we can also ask Delhi and Punjab to do the same as we have done in the past,” the official was quoted as saying.

The IPL begins on March 23, with the first game between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings.

You can check the IPL 2019 schedule here.

#2 Bharat Arun calls Dhoni 'legend', defends under-fire Pant

Rishabh Pant during the 4th ODI against Australia

India's bowling coach Bharat Arun has defended under-fire wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, who was criticised for his errors behind the stumps during the 4th India-Australia ODI. Fans on social media brought up examples of MS Dhoni's keeping masterclass who Pant has replaced for the final two games.

Calling MS Dhoni a legend, Bharat Arun said that the comparison between the 21-year-old Pant, and the 37-year-old Dhoni is unfair.

“Unfair to compare Pant and Dhoni. Dhoni is a legend, his work behind the stumps is exemplary. When Virat needs someone to talk to, he is a huge influence on the team.”

He also heaped praise on Vijay Shankar, the all-rounder who has shown tremendous maturity with the bat in the opportunities he has received so far.

Vijay has gained in confidence. He has batted brilliantly at (different) positions given to him. He batted at number four, six and seven. The confidence he has gained with his batting is rubbing onto his bowling as well."

#3 Rahane needed for World Cup, says Vengsarkar

Rahane hasn't played an ODI since last year

Ajinkya Rahane's absence from the ODI setup has surprised former India captain Dileep Vengsarkar, who is of the opinion that the batsman should have been part of the five-match ODI series against Australia.

According to Mumbai Mirror, the former Chairman of Selectors is of the belief that Rahane can bring his middle-order stability from the Test arena to the ODI format as well.

“I feel by ignoring talented and experienced Ajinkya, the Indian think tank is doing grave injustice to him. He is a proven batsman in the English conditions and an outstanding fielder too”.

“He will give the middle order the much-needed solidity besides the option as an opening batsman too as he has the experience of opening and also batting at No 4. Mind you, it’s not a Twenty20 tournament but the 50-over World Cup where building a team total will decide the fate of the teams. We need a total of at least 280 in every game," Vengsarkar added.

Rahane last played an ODI for India in February 2018.

#4 Father's illness rules Hashim Amla out of Sri Lanka series

Hashim Amla will miss the final couple of matches

South Africa veteran batsman Hashim Amla has been released from the squad for the final two ODIs against Sri Lanka, owing to the critical illness of his father.

Proteas team manager, Dr. Mohammed Moosajee said: "Hashim has asked to be excused from the last two ODIs of the current series against Sri Lanka on compassionate grounds since his father is critically ill".

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Hashim and his family during this difficult time and we understand that family obligations always come first".

Reeza Hendricks has been added to the squad as part of CSA's 'rotational policy'.

"The selectors have decided to add Reeza Hendricks to the squad. It was always the intention of the selectors to rotate Hashim and Reeza during this Sri Lanka ODI series," Moosajee went on to add.