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Friday,27-May-2022

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Ajaz Patel, Michael Bracewell awarded central contracts by New Zealand Cricket

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 Thirty-three-year old left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel and all-rounder Michael Bracewell were among the 20 names offered central contracts for 2022/23 by New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Friday.

Patel, who had missed out last year, returned to the fold after a series of superb performances. He helped New Zealand to a Test victory in England in June 2021 and was the top wicket-taker in the five-match T20I series against Bangladesh in September. In a stunning display of spin bowling, he claimed a 14-wicket haul in Mumbai against India in December.

The other new name in the list, 31-year-old Michael Bracewell, has been offered his maiden contract. Bracewell was the captain of the New Zealand XI side against Netherlands in March this year and top-scored for them in the two 50-over games with 81 and an unbeaten 127, according to ICC.

He made his ODI debut in the same month against Netherlands and has played three internationals so far.

“Finalising the list seems to get tougher by the year,” said New Zealand head coach Gary Stead.

“The busy international calendar means we’re calling on a wider base of talent these days and the likes of Michael Bracewell are testament to the depth of that talent. Michael’s been consistently performing on the domestic circuit for seasons now and we certainly see him as an international prospect in all three formats.

“It’s great to see Ajaz back on the list after narrowly missing out last season. His value as our leading red-ball spinner is clear and we’re excited to see the role he could play in the Test team going forward.

“I’d like to congratulate all 20 players who have received a national contract offer for the coming season and wish those heading away this winter all the best. I’d also like to acknowledge Ross Taylor and his immense contribution to the Black Caps over a long and successful career,” Stead added.

The two names missing from the previous list are Ross Taylor, who retired from international cricket last month, and James Neesham.

Neesham has not played a Test since 2017 and has struggled to find form in white-ball cricket. He last played an ODI in March 2021 and has picked only three wickets in his last 10 T20Is.

Contracted players’ list 2022/23: Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young.

Sports

IPL 2022: Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell will have to score runs for RCB to win against RR, says Chopra

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 Former India opener Aakash Chopra feels senior players like captain Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli, and Glenn Maxwell will have to step up for Royal Challengers Bangalore in their Qualifier 2 match against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2022.

During the 14-run win over Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator at Kolkata, the grand total of runs scored by du Plessis, Kohli and Maxwell was just 34 as Rajat Patidar struck a scintillating century, an unbeaten 112 off just 54 balls though the trio has chipped in patches throughout the tournament.

“Experience will be helpful in today’s match. I believe but I could still be wrong because if we look at RCB’s performance so far in this season, they reached this stage after winning the Eliminator without Kohli, Maxwell and Faf du Plessis scoring runs. If you still reached there, it means RCB’s season has been good.”

“So, well done RCB! But if you want to go forward from here and win today’s match, and then defeat Gujarat in the final, then it is not going to be possible without Faf, Kohli, and Maxwell scoring runs,” said Chopra on Game Plan show on Star Sports.

Chopra cautioned that the senior trio will have to get runs, especially against left-arm pacer Trent Boult and right-arm fast bowler Prasidh Krishna as whirlwind knocks like what Patidar produced in the Eliminator won’t happen every time. “They have a lot of experience. Trent Boult will be up against Faf du Plessis and he has struggled against left-armers. So, it will be a key battle to watch how he faces Boult. Virat Kohli has no such issue, he only needs to play Prasidh Krishna a little cautiously.”

“The rest he will handle pretty well. He hasn’t been dismissed by Trent Boult till now. But Faf has to score runs. It will not work every time that he gets a golden duck and expect someone to rescue the team from danger and reach 200. Rajat Patidar won’t be able to do it every time like he did in the Eliminator. Someone else will have to take the responsibility.”

Chopra further felt Rajasthan Royals’ leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, currently, the leading wicket-taker with 26 scalps in 15 matches, needs to bring out his best against his former IPL side in the contest for a spot for the final on Sunday. “They (Rajasthan) are not very over-dependent off-course. He is the highest wicket-taker not only for his team but has got the most wickets in the league. They’ve got other bowlers too, so it’s a good bowling unit.”

“In the opposition’s batting unit, looking at your main batters – Virat Kohli or Faf du Plessis – if they don’t score runs, then Rajat Patidar will score runs once in a while else it will become difficult for him. The same is happening with Jos Buttler if you look at his current batting. Yuzi Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin have played only once or twice where both have failed to take any wickets and RR lost both the matches.”

“So, it’s no doubt that they are important players and bowl important overs. But the good thing about today is that the field is very big and if there’s no dew on the field, you’ll see these bowlers bowling smartly. You will see Chahal bowling his best against his former team. In the previous match, he bowled well, but this time he needs to do even better since he needs to make his former team regret for not keeping him.”

Chopra signed off by saying Bangalore might win Qualifier 2 and face Gujarat Titans in the final. “Royals will win it. Let’s go with Royal Challengers Bangalore though the Rajasthani Rajwadas won’t let me enter Jaipur. They are very close to my heart but this time I would go for RCB.”

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Sports

Fazza Dubai Para-Badminton: Top Indian shuttlers enter quarterfinals

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Top Indian para-shuttlers led by Paralympics champion Pramod Bhagat (MS SL3), Tarun Dhillon, Manasi Joshi and Parul Parmar advanced to the quarterfinals here, continuing their winning march through the group stage at the 4th Fazza Dubai Para-badminton International 2022 here.

Bhagat, the highest-ranked player in Men’s Standing Lower (SL3) category, lived up to his billing as he topped the group stage with three wins as the group stage matches ended late on Thursday.

The Odisha-born player is also through to the last-8 stage of the mixed doubles along with Manisha Ramadass, who is expected to advance in her women’s singles SU5 and women’s doubles SL3-SU5 with Mandeep Kaur.

“It has been a good two weeks so far. I hope to continue the golden run in Dubai as well and keep my winning record here. These competitive matches are important to me as we have the big one later this year, the World Para Championships in Japan,” the reigning world and Paralympic champion Bhagat, who is set to play Indian junior Nihal Gupta in the quarters, was quoted as saying by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) in a release on Friday.

Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Manoj Sarkar and Nitesh Kumar, placed in the lower half of the draw in men’s singles SL3, and promising Hardik Makkar and Chirag Baretha (both in men’s singles SU5) are also through to the quarterfinals.

Dhillon in quarters of three events

In men’s SL4, Tarun Dhillon will play Korea’s Cho Nadan in the quarterfinals and is expected to be challenged by Thailand’s Siripong Teamarrom in the semifinals. A summit clash between Dhillon and Indonesian Fredy Setiawan looks likely.

Dhillon is also through to the last-8 stage of men’s doubles SL3-SL4 and mixed doubles SL3-SU5 events.

Among other names, top seeds Malaysian Cheah Liek Hou (MS SU5), Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai (MS SH6), Japan’s Daiki Kajiwara, and Hong Kong’s Chan Ho Yuen (MS WH2,) Indonesians Setiawan (MS SL4) and Suryo Nugroho (MS SU5) all topped their groups and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Joshi, Parmar, Manisha, and Nithya advance

In the women’s events, India’s reigning world champion Manasi Joshi, and Parul Parmar (women’s singles SL3) advanced as did Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan, who should make it to the finals of women’s singles SH6.

Promising Manisha Ramadass continued her good run and is through to the women’s singles quarterfinals SU5. She is expected to face Denmark’s Cathrine Rosengren in the semifinals.

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International

Indian men’s football team faces Jordan in last preparatory game before Asian Cup Qualifiers

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The Indian men’s football team is all set to take on Jordan in a friendly match on Saturday (May 28) in Doha, their last preparatory game ahead of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers, which kicks off in Kolkata on June 8, 2022.

The match against Jordan will be played at the Qatar Sports Club.

“Another game against a stronger team will always help,” head coach Igor Stimac said. “It’s our last friendly game prior to the qualifiers, and we need to get final answers to certain questions,” the coach added. “Some of our youngsters will have a great opportunity to gain more experience at the international level.”

The squad has been in the preparatory camp for over a month, first in Bellary, and then in Kolkata, and the coach said that the “fitness levels are quite good”.

“The fitness levels are quite good. We have another 10 days in front of us, and it should be perfect. The boys have done a great job, and they need to be rewarded with some good results in the Qualifiers,” Stimac, who was part of the Croatian World Cup team which finished third in FIFA World Cup France 98, added.

Referring to Jordan as an opposition, the coach felt, “Jordan (FIFA Ranking 91) are ranked better than Belarus (FIFA Ranking 93) but are not as physical as Belarus. S,o for us, it should be a bit easier in regards to the build-up, and ball possession.”

India are currently ranked 106 on the FIFA ladder, and had played Belarus in an official match in the FIFA international window in March 2022, a match where they went down 0-3.

Meanwhile, the Indian squad has been bolstered by the joining of the ATK Mohun Bagan players, all of whom have missed the preparatory camp so far owing to their club commitments in the AFC Cup. “They came very late (on May 26, 2022 morning) after playing three games in seven days, and hence, we need to be careful with them. We still have over 36 hours ahead for them to recover, and I will be making a decision whether to field them or not on 28th morning,” Stimac added.

The 25-member squad:

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Laxmikanth Kattimani, Amrinder Singh.

Defenders: Rahul Bheke, Pritam Kotal, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Anwar Ali, Sandesh Jhingan, Subhashish Bose, Roshan Singh, Akash Mishra.

Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Jeakson Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Glan Martins, Brandon Fernandes, Ritwik Das, Yasir Mohammad, Sahal Abdul Samad, Suresh Wangjam, Ashique Kuruniyan, Liston Colaco.

Forwards: Ishan Pandita, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh.

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