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Tuesday,13-April-2021

International

Batting success rubbed off on wicket-keeping: Rishabh Pant

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Less than three months ago, Rishabh Pant was considered a second choice wicket-keeper across formats. Someone who was not fit to be in the limited-overs squads for the Australia tour.

And in the Test squad, he was second behind Wriddhiman Saha on testing pitches i.e. surfaces that supported seam movement or turn.

At the end of the fourth Test against England on Saturday, Pant is India’s no. 1 wicket-keeper by a distance and easily one of their biggest matchwinners with the bat.

The 23-year-old attributed it to the confidence he gained through his batting which he transferred to his wicket-keeping.

“I did a lot of drills. The main thing is confidence that I got with batting and I transferred that to keeping. It (performances with the bat like these) means a lot. If you are in a tough situation, and can do something that can pull your team into a situation that can help bring the game towards you. That is a big thing,” said Pant after the match.

Pant was rated high behind the stumps by experts and batted bravely and in a calculated manner in the only innings India played in the fourth Test. This is besides his series-winning performances in Australia.

His audacity and fearlessness was exemplified by the reverse sweep he hit off James Anderson when the England pace bowler was bowling with the second new ball.

Pant said he won’t hold back such shots even if it is Test cricket.

“If I get a chance I will reverse sweep,” he added, saying that his ability to play in a free and brave manner comes from his habit – since childhood — of playing to enjoy and make everyone enjoy the game.

“Since childhood, I was thinking whatever cricket I have to play, I have to enjoy and play with a smile. And everyone around you should keep smiling because of you,” added Pant.

Senior teammate and ace off-spinner R. Ashwin was effusive in his praise of the wicketkeeper-batsman and acknowledged the pressure Pant has handled.

“He has been under a lot of pressure for someone, being compared to legends of the game,” said Ashwin with an obvious reference to M.S. Dhoni.

Ashwin hinted that Pant just needed some confidence as he always thought he was good enough to keep wickets.

“Often he has come and told me ‘I take these catches and stumpings so often in club cricket and in IPL’ and it is just that he has got the right momentum. The way he has kept in the series is beyond excellent.”

International

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos tests positive for Covid-19

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Real Madrid defender and captain Sergio Ramos has tested positive for coronavirus, the Spanish club said on Tuesday.

Ramos has been sidelined since the beginning of April due to a muscle injury and his recovery is supposed to last around six weeks, DPA reports.

He missed the Clasico 2-1 win over Barcelona on Saturday and also the Champions League quarter-finals first leg against Liverpool last week.

Due to his injury, Ramos was already set to miss the second leg against Liverpool on Wednesday. Madrid have a 3-1 advantage following their first leg triumph.

Madrid will also miss Dani Carvajal, Eden Hazard and Lucas Vazquez, all injured, and Raphael Varane, who tested positive for coronavirus.

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International

Lauren Davis stuns Kenin to progress in Charleston tennis

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Lauren Davis shocked fellow American and second seed Sofia Kenin in the second round of the Charleston Open.

Davis picked up her third career win over a Top 5 player with the gruelling two-and-a-half-hour victory over world number four Kenin, rallying to claim the win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday, Xinhua news reports.

“I’m super excited,” Davis said. “It was a really tough match, she obviously is an incredible player and one of the best competitors that I’ve seen. To have won this, in Charleston with these conditions, being so hot out, it’s really special for me.”

The 79th-ranked Davis is now a win away from matching her career-best run in Charleston, when she reached the quarter-finals in 2015 before losing to eventual runner-up Madison Keys.

“I think this gives me some really good momentum,” Davis said. “I always have that self-belief, but it’s just a matter of digging deep and applying that on the court. So the fact that I was able to do this today and show myself that I can beat a Grand Slam champion, it’s very cool, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”

Davis will now meet another American, Coco Gauff, in the round of 16.

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Surprised SA allowed players to leave for IPL during series: Shahid Afridi

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Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said that it was surprising to see Cricket South Africa (CSA) allowing players to leave for the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the middle of an international series.

South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje were among players who were allowed to leave for their respective IPL teams after the second ODI of their three-match series against Pakistan.

“Surprising to see @OfficialCSA allowing players to travel for IPL in the middle of a series. It is sad to see T20 leagues influencing international cricket. Some rethinking needs to be done!!” Afridi tweeted.

The series was poised at 1-1 and a depleted South Africa ended up losing the third ODI by 28 runs.

Additionally, New Zealand could be without captain Kane Williamson and frontline fast bowlers Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Lockie Ferguson in their upcoming Test series against England if the trio’s respective IPL teams end up reaching the final. England themselves could be missing players like Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes among others if their teams end up reaching the IPL final.

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