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Monday,02-August-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.”

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Pakistan’s Azam Khan ruled out of two T20Is against West Indies

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Pakistan batsman Azam Khan has been ruled out of the second and third T20Is against West Indies after sustaining a head injury in a training session.

“A neurosurgeon has recommended an observation period of 24 hours. He will then be reassessed on Monday. His availability for the final T20I will depend on the reassessment done on Monday,” said a statement by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday.
Azam, son of the former Pakistan cricketer Moin Khan, made his international debut in the T2I series against England. The 22-year-old had modest scores of five not out and one in two matches before being dropped for the decider at Old Trafford.

In the ongoing series, he didn’t get a chance to bat in the opening T20I at Barbados against West Indies as the nine-over affair was called off due to rain.

The last three T20Is between Pakistan and West Indies will be played in Guyana from July 31 to August 3. The T20I series will be followed by two Tests starting August 12 and 20 in Kingston, Jamaica.

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Olympics: Boxer Amit Panghal crashes out

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Boxer Amit Panghal, the world No. 1 in men’s 52kg, crashed out of the Tokyo Olympics, losing to Yuberjen Herney Martinez Rivas of Colombia in a Round-of-16 bout on Saturday.

Panghal, India’s biggest hope in this section, lost 4-1 (rpt 4-1) on points, starting the day on a disappointing note for boxing after the high of Lovlina Borgohain reaching the semifinals and assuring a medal for the country.

Panghal, the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist, had drawn a tough opponent in Martinez Rivas, the silver medallist at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The 25-year-old Indian from Haryana started off well and won the first round. Starting with an open stance and moving around the ring, Panghal made Martinez Rivas come for him and make him work for his points.

Panghal counter-attacked on all possible occasions and landed some good combinations, winning a split decision 4-1 in his favour.

But Panghal changed his tactics inexplicably in the second round and became too defensive, maybe hoping to make Martinez Rivas work hard for points so as to tire down the Colombian.

Martinez Rivas won the second round, getting 10 points from all five judges.

Panghal, whose fitness looked suspect, looked totally exhausted and could not do much in the third and final round as he tried to go after his rival in the last 30 seconds but that was too late and too little as the judges had by that time seen Martinez Rivas attacking a lot in the right through the round.

Martinez Rivas bagged 10 points from all five judges and one judge gave Panghal eight points while others gave him nine each.

Panghal’s defensive approach — whether it was by design or due to lack of fitness — in the second round undid all his efforts of the last five years.

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Isuru Udana announces retirement from international cricket

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Sri Lankan all-rounder Isuru Udana has announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect on Saturday. The reason behind his abrupt departure from international cricket was not known.

The 33-year-old had recently featured in the limited-overs series against India. He played in the first ODI followed by the first two T20Is but had no wickets against his name.

“I believe the time has come for me to make way for the next generation of players. It is with immense pride and passion, and unfathomable commitment that I have represented and served my country,” said Udana in a press release by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

Udana made his debut for Sri Lanka in the 2009 T20 World Cup where he took two wickets against Australia. In 21 ODIs and 34 T20Is for Sri Lanka, the left-arm pacer took 18 and 27 wickets at an average of 52.78 and 33.89 respectively.

As a batsman, he scored 237 ODI and 256 T20I runs at an average of 16.92 and 18.28 with highest scores of 78 and 84 respectively.

Udana was known mostly for his variety and changes of pace with the white ball, especially on slower pitches. He was capable of moving the ball off the seam and possessed a repertoire of slower deliveries, including the back-of-the-hand delivery.

He was also the only Sri Lankan player to feature in the 2020 edition of the IPL, representing Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In RCB’s run to the play-offs, Udana took eight wickets in 10 matches at an average of 35.25 with an economy rate of 9.75.

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