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Thursday,04-March-2021

International

Adelaide Test: We have plans for Kohli, says Tim Paine

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Virat Kohli, who will be available only for the first Test of the four-match Test series which begins Thursday at the Adelaide Oval, does not worry Australia captain Tim Paine who says his team has a few plans up its sleeve to counter the India captain.

Paine also said that the Australian team won’t hold back, and will be ready to retort, if things get ugly on the field.

“Everyone has got great plans against the best players…that is why they are best players because they can adapt. They can change what you are doing and Virat is certainly one of the best if not the best in the world. There are going to be times when they do get away against you – there is just one Test hopefully he doesn’t – but we have plans against him that have worked against him and hopefully they work against him. But if not then we have a couple of different plans,” said Paine while speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

Paine said that the variety in his team’s bowling attack is good enough to trouble the star India batsman.

“And again, the great thing with our attack is that they are all different. We have also got Nathan Lyon and throw in Greeny (Cameron Green) we have got different angles, different speeds, and also Mars (Marnus Labuschagne who bowls leg-spin) we have lots of different options to throw at him if he wants to get in and settle,” Paine said.

With Mitchell Starc back, the wicketkeeper-batsman feels that the Aussies have an advantage in the pink-ball Test. Starc boasts of a stellar record in day-night Tests, having taken 42 wickets in the seven of them he has played so far in his career.

“Starcy is good to go. He bowled quite quickly in the nets yesterday. He is in good shape, he had an unfortunate family situation going on, but we are thrilled to have him back in the squad. His pink ball record is absolutely outstanding. He is an absolute nightmare to face with the pink ball whether it is day or not. Again he is a huge asset to us. We are thrilled to have him back,” said the Australian skipper.

The 36-year-old also said that while they are not going to be overly aggressive, they would be ready to give it back to the Indians if there is a need for it.

“Yes in terms of what goes on the field, we will have to wait and see. Certainly, we don’t go into planning to have run-ins or be overly aggressive or anything like that. We just go out there to execute our plans firstly with bat and ball, and at times things at the field can be… if that is the case, no doubt that this team won’t be taking a backward step,” said Paine.

Paine said they will focus on vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane as he can hold the team together. Rahane will lead India when Kohli leaves for India to attend the birth of his child.

“When he (Kohli) leaves, we know the talent they have got all the way down their list. (Cheteshwar) Pujara obviously troubled us a lot last year so obviously he will be a big key to us but we know the talent. Rishabh (Pant) came in last week’s A game (warm-up tie) and made a quick hundred. So they have got guys around that can take away the Test match from you away quickly but we got to be really across all of them. But clearly, yeah, Rahane held the team together, he was the glue last series. He is a huge focus for us,” added Paine.

Paine though has always preferred using his sense of humour to distract the opposition. This has been a change in Australia’s strategy post the sandpaper scandal. Head coach Justin Langer has emphasised on honesty, humility and mateship at the elite level. Asked about the chat he was involved in with Pant during the last tour, Paine said he wanted to distract the wicketkeeper-batsman with that although the strategy will be different for other players.

“I think I just try and do what I think is the best at the time. The stuff that keeps getting replayed was just a friendly chat. My reading at that time was that he was a player we could distract into playing a loose shot. He is a sort of a one, happy relaxed guy. So yeah, that is the angle I took with him. But it won’t be the same with everyone. I try and read the situation I am in at the time and try and adapt to that,” said the Australia skipper.

International

Rohit Sharma and Bumrah lose one spot each in ICC T20I rankings

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India batsman Rohit Sharma and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah each went down a place in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) T20I rankings for batsmen and bowlers, respectively.

While Sharma is now 14th from 13th, Bumrah went down to 16th from 15th in the updated rankings that was released on Wednesday.

Sharma and Bumrah’s moves down the rankings was because of New Zealand’s Martin Guptill and Australia’s Jhye Richardson moving up due to their performances in the five-match T20I series between the two sides. Kiwi opener Guptill, who missed out on a century in the first T20I by three runs, gained three slots to reach 11th. Richardson replaced Bumrah in 15th place.

Meanwhile, India captain Virat Kohli (6th) and opener KL Rahul (2nd) maintained their positions on the table.

New Zealand’s Devon Conway’s 99 not out in the Christchurch opener has helped him gain 46 spots and reach 17th position after just eight matches.

Glenn Philips and James Neesham have moved up in the list for batsmen while Tim Southee (up one place to sixth), Mitchell Santner (up two places to seventh), Ish Sodhi (up three places to 11th) and Trent Boult (up 24 places to 49th) have progressed in the bowlers’ list.

For Australia, Marcus Stoinis’ knock of 78 in the second match sees him gain 77 places to reach 110th position along with Matthew Wade, who is up from 132nd to 118th.

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International

1st Test: Afghanistan reduced to 49/6 at tea

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Afghanistan-players

Afghanistan were left staring at an innings defeat after being reduced to 49/6 at tea on the second day of the first Test against Zimbabwe at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium. Zimbabwe continued to exploit the seam-friendly conditions as fast bowlers Blessing Muzarabani and Victory Nyauchi took two and three wickets, respectively.

Opener Ibrahim Zadran remained not out in 23 off 56 balls while his team mates fell around him. The only partnership of the innings before tea that crossed over into a two-digits was a 26-run stand between Zadran and Aghanistan captain Asghar Afghan.

Earlier, Sean Williams became the third Zimbabwean Test captain to score a century in Asia after Tatenda Taibu and Craig Ervine. Williams scored 105 off 174 balls, his third century in Test cricket, as his team put up 250 runs in reply to Afghanistan’s 131 all out in the first innings.

Afghanistan spinner Amir Hamza, meanwhile took six wickets as Zimbabwe ended their innings with a lead of 119 runs.

Brief score: Afghanistan 131 & 49/6 (Ibrahim Zadran 26 batting; Blessing Muzarabani 2/7, Victor Nyauchi 3/14) vs Zimbabwe 250 all out (Sean Williams 105, Regis Chakabva 44; Amir Hamza 6/75)

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Novak Djokovic equals Roger Federer for most weeks as world no. 1

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Novak Djokovic has tied Roger Federer’s all-time record for the most weeks at the top of the men’s tennis rankings.

Djokovic on Monday entered his 310th week at the top of the ATP rankings. The 33-year-old Serbian reclaimed the top spot from Spain’s Rafael Nadal in February 2020.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion grabbed his ninth Australian Open title last month, which ensured he will surpass Federer’s record next week.

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have dominated men’s singles tennis, particularly the Grand Slams, for nearly two decades.

From the 2003 Wimbledon to the 2021 Australian Open, the three players have won 58 out of 70 Grand Slams. They won 18 consecutive slams from the 2005 French Open to Wimbledon in 2009, and 13 consecutive slams from the 2017 Australian Open to the 2020 Australian Open.

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