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Tuesday,15-June-2021

International

Bajrang Punia and Vinesh take back top spot after winning in Rome

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India’s Bajrang Punia got back to the No. 1 spot in the 65 kg wrestling world rankings after winning gold at the Matteo Pelicone Ranking Series in Rome. Earlier, Vinesh Phogat took back the top spot in the 53 kg rankings after winning gold in her weight category at the ranking series.

Both wrestlers, who have qualified for this year’s Tokyo Olympics, had slipped off the top of the rankings during the lengthy breaks they had to take in 2020 on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While Punia came into the tournament ranked second, Vinesh was third. Punia, 27, defended his title in Rome on Sunday after beating Mongolia’s Tulga Tumur Ochir 2-2. He was trailing 2-0 for much of the bout but managed to take two points in the last 30 seconds. Since Punia was the last to score a point, he was declared winner on criteria.

Vinesh, meanwhile, won gold without dropping a single point throughout the tournament, beating Canada’s Diana Weicker 4-0 in the final. This is the 26-year-old Asian Games champion’s second gold medal in two weeks, having earlier won the 53 kg title in the Outstanding Ukrainian Wrestlers and Coaches Memorial tournament in Kiev, Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Sumit Malik won bronze in the 125 kg category and jumped to fourth in the rankings. He gained nine points after coming into the tournament ranked 44. Naveen Mor rose to fourth in the Greco-Roman 130 kg category after winning bronze in Rome.

Sarita Mor rose to 2nd in the women’s 57 kg rankings after winning silver while Anshu Malik got up to fifth from eighth in the same weight class.

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Virat Kohli gets a taste of pace, bounce at Southampton

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India skipper Virat Kohli got a glimpse of pace and bounce, that groundsman Simon Lee wants in the World Test Championship (WTC) final pitch, during a nets session at the Hampshire Bowl here.

Kohli was felled by a fast bouncer from one of India’s throwdown specialists in a video posted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday as he prepared for the WTC final that gets underway from June 18.

Lee was on Monday quoted as saying, “For me personally, I just want to get something out that has some pace, bounce and carry in the pitch.”

The 32-year-old, who is India’s No. 4 in Test batting line-up, was also seen blocking a yorker, playing drives and reaching out for a delivery.

The video also showed India pace bowlers Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami as well as spinner Ravindra Jadeja bowling to other batsmen with Rishabh Pant smashing a six.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane also seemed to be getting a hang of things as he played a flick shot that was acknowledged by teammates including bowler Ishant.

India had reached Southampton on June 3 and underwent quarantine for 10 days during which they also played an intra-squad simulation match.

They came out of quarantine on Monday.

The Indian Test squad is staying in United Kingdom for three-and-a-half months during which they will also play a five-Test series against England in August-September.

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Indian cricketers loving the taste of England

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Scrambled eggs, baked beans, brown toast, and sausages seem to be the favourite breakfast of Indian cricketers while they are in England for the World Test Championship (WTC) final and a five-match Test series against the hosts.

Pacers Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin say their favourite English breakfast was scrambled eggs, baked beans and toast, while India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane added sausages to the menu.

In a video posted by bcci.tv on Tuesday, the fifth player, Cheteshwar Pujara, said he preferred brown toast, potato roasties and beans, as he was a vegetarian.

While fielding a ‘Rapid fire Challenge'”, all the cricketers were in agreement that Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) was one of their favourite films shot in England.

The other movies shot in England that they could immediately think of were: Namaste London, Kal Ho Na Ho, and Houseful.

All the cricketers agreed that the balmy England weather was the biggest attraction to tour the country.

Shami said he liked England because of the weather and the plenty of opportunities it provided for shopping.

Ashwin said that “the greatest blessing of coming to England is to walk on those big streets especially in the London mainstream…you can grab a coffee by the road, sit around and calmly have a chat with whoever you’re going with”.

Rahane made it clear that though he liked walking around parks and going to cafes with his family, his immediate task was to play competitive cricket against New Zealand in the WTC final in Southampton from Friday and the Test series against England in August-September.

“Playing cricket here is what I really enjoy,” said the vice-captain. And as an afterthought he said that “walking around the parks and going to cafes with your families, especially now that my daughter is here, are what I like a lot”.

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Indian team winds up its match simulation, out of quarantine

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The Indian cricket team ended its three-day match simulation on Sunday ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal among others getting a chance to bat.

“The third day of intra-squad match simulation was about settling down & finding that rhythm. [emoticon: thumbs-up twice] #TeamIndia,” tweeted the Board of Control for Cricket in India along with a brief video recapping the day’s play.

The third day saw Hanuma Vihari and Shubman Gill opening the innings with the former, who had a terrible outing with Warwickshire county this season, shown glancing the ball.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is shown playing a cover-drive, Rohit a cut off the back-foot and Rahane flicking the ball. Coach Ravi Shastri is seen watching the proceedings from the dressing room balcony.

The Indian team came out of its mandatory 10-day quarantine on Monday and will gear up for the WTC final which begins on June 18. The players had reached Southampton on June 3.

The New Zealand squad, after its 1-0 series win over host England, will reach Southampton from Birmingham on Monday afternoon.

The WTC final will be the first Test match India will play at a neutral venue.

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