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Saturday,17-April-2021

International

1st Test: Jack Leach, Anderson star in England’s 227-run win

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Left-arm spinner Jack Leach (four wickets) and veteran speedster James Anderson (three wickets) on Tuesday bowled England to a massive 227-run win on the fifth and final day of the first Test here, and take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Chasing an extremely difficult target of 420 runs on a crumbling and dusty MA Chidambaram Stadium pitch, India in their second innings were bundled out for 192 in 58.1 overs in the second session on the fifth and final day.

Having set India a 420-run target to win, England bowled a listless India out for 192 in 58.1 overs, with 29-year Leach taking four for 76 and Anderson bagging three for 17. All five bowlers took wickets, with fast bowler Jofra Archer, off-spinner Dominic Bess, and pacer Ben Stokes taking one scalp each.

Leach was the pick of the England bowlers in the second innings as he returned with figures of 4/72 in the 25 overs he bowled. He was ably supported by Anderson who scalped three wickets, conceding just 17 runs in his 11 overs. Dominic Bess, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer picked one wicket each.

Earlier, England had scored 578 runs in their first innings in reply to which India posted 337, thus conceding a lead of 241. The visitors were then bundled out for 178 to set a 420-run target for the Indian team.

This was India’s first Test defeat at home since 2017 when they had suffered a 333-run loss against Australia in Pune. After that, they played 14 Tests in between, registering win in 11 while three matches ended in a draw.

This was India’s fourth Test defeat against England at the Chepauk, first after 1985 when the visitors registered win under David Gower’s captaincy.

Before this Test match, India had faced England in 60 matches at home, registering win in 19, losing 13 and drawing 28.

Overall, India and England have competed in 123 Tests, out of which India have won 27, England 47 while 49 matches have ended in a draw.

Earlier on the fifth and final day on Tuesday, India resumed their chase at 39/1 but lost Cheteshwar Pujara early as he was caught in the slips against Leach, after scoring 15 runs off the 38 ball he faced.

Shubman Gill (50) and skipper Virat Kohli then shared a 34-run stand and tried to steady the ship. However, just after reaching his third Test fifty, Gill was bowled by a ripper from Anderson.

Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane once again failed to perform with the bat as he got out in the same over against Anderson, thus leaving India in a precarious situation. Rahane, who had scored just one in the first innings, went back to the dressing room without troubling the scorers.

Rishabh Pant, India’s batting hero in the first innings, scored 11 off 19 before he became the third scalp of Anderson. Washington Sundar, the next batsman in, also couldn’t stay long and got out for a duck against Dom Bess.

Ashwin then faced some blows on his body but made sure that he didn’t give his wicket away as India went into Lunch needing 276 runs with just four wickets in hand.

After the lunch break, Ashwin — after sharing a 54-run partnership with Kohli — got out after scoring nine runs while attempting a square cut against Leach, leaving India reeling at 171/7.

Kohli, who was fighting the lone battle with the lower order, then got out bowled to a Stokes delivery that kept low and disturbed the wood.

Shahbaz Nadeem and Jasprit Bumrah got out after scoring 0 and 4 while Ishant Sharma remained not out at 5.

The two teams will now face other in the second Test beginning Saturday at the same venue in front of spectators.

Brief scores: India 337 (Rishabh Pant 91; Dominic Bess 4/76) and 192 (Virat Kohli 72, Jack Leach 4/76) lose to England 578 (Joe Root 218; Jasprit Bumrah 3/84) and 178 (Joe Root 40; Ravichandran Ashwin 6/61) by 227 runs

International

Barcelona president ‘convinced’ Lionel Messi will remain at Camp Nou

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta is “convinced” Lionel Messi will sign a new contract to stay with the La Liga giants.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and the 33-year-old’s future with Barca is far from certain amid strong links to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester City, DPA reported.

Laporta remains determined to re-sign Messi, who has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou.

As Barca prepare for the weekend’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao, Laporta was asked about the record six-time Ballon d’Or winner. “Everything is progressing adequately,” Laporta said.

“I will do everything within the club’s capabilities to get him to stay. That’s what we’re doing. Messi is motivated. He is an extraordinary person and I am convinced that he will want to continue at Barca.”

Messi has scored a league-high 23 goals and supplied eight assists in 28 La Liga appearances for Barca this season.

In total, Messi has netted 29 goals across all competitions in 2020-21.

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Had I adapted a bit earlier, things would have been different: Ankita Raina

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India’s top-ranked singles tennis player Ankita Raina conceded after her loss to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in the Billie Jean King Cup World Group play-off match that had she adapted to the Latvian world No. 52’s game a bit earlier, “things would probably have been a bit different”.

At the end of the day on Friday, India were 0-2 down in the five-match rubber with both Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi losing their singles matches to higher-ranked Latvian opponents, Ostapenko and Anastasija Sevastova, respectively.

“As the first set went through, I understood what she (Ostapenko) was doing and what I needed to change in my game. It was good that I could adapt to her game, but it probably would have been a bit different had I done that (adapted) a bit earlier,” said the world’s 174th-ranked singles player after losing 2-6, 7-5, 5-7 to the Latvian.

“When you play for your country, you fight for each point and that was seen in the match. I felt that I could have done a bit better in the first set and I did catch up (to win the second set), but Ostapenko has also played such matches before and played at the best level,” the Indian, who will take on Anastasija Sevastova in the reverse singles, said at the post-match press conference.

Ostapenko is the winner of the 2017 French Open title.

Raina, whose game had improved several notches this year, added, “I’ve said I belong to this level and my game has improved. I was very confident going into the match and I did feel that anything could happen. So, I was not thinking too much about the result. But it’s natural that when you are representing your country, you do have some nerves.”

On the reverse singles match, the Indian said, “It’s a new day, a new match. I will be ready and more than prepared and do my recovery that is needed to be ready for the match (against Sevastova).”

For Karman Kaur Thandi, who lost to Sevastova 4-6, 0-6, it was a “huge learning experience playing against a top-50 player for the first time”.

“Now, I need to work on my physical aspect going forward. Playing at this level after a couple of years, and also having not played against a top-50 player, the experience was pretty good, especially the intensity was there in the first set but I got broken twice which made the difference,” said Thandi.

“If you just look at the first set, I was pretty much there, and it could have gone either side. In the second set, the intensity dropped a little bit from my side, and she (Sevastova) also started playing a little bit more solid.”

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I know I am paid to slog: Chris Morris

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A few days after he was denied strike on the last ball of the match against Punjab Kings as his captain Sanju Samson thought he won’t be able to clear the boundary, Rajasthan Royals (RR) all-rounder Chris Morris proved he is no muck with the bat as he led RR to a fascinating three-wicket win over Delhi Capitals.

Morris, who hit an unbeaten 18-ball 36 laden with four sixes, however said he had no regrets on being denied strike although his reaction in Monday’s match after being sent back by Samson was one of bemusement and a sarcastic smile.

“I was going to run back no matter what to sacrifice because Sanju was hitting it so sweetly. Sanju was hitting it like a dream, I wouldn’t have been too upset if he had hit the last ball for a six,” said Morris about the incident in Monday’s game.

Morris, who was bought for Rs 16.25 crore at the IPL mini-auction, said that he knows he is being paid to hit big.

“There are guys who get paid to bat and there are guys who get paid to slog, I know what I am. I am a slogger that swings everything I can, I play so much golf,” he added.

RR had earlier restricted DC to 147/8 in 20 overs and the right-handed batsman and right-arm bowler from South Africa said that he would have taken that target before the start of the match.

“If we had to chase 140-odd when we got here, we would have taken it, so happy to get over the line…it’s quite nice to know that we can win a game from anywhere after being down in the dumps. That’s T20 cricket,” he added.

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