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CLOSE-IN: India have the fire-power to win the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022

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The Indian cricket team has embarked on its journey for the T20 World Cup 2022 to be played in Australia. This is wonderful news as the team will get enough time to get acclimatised to the conditions Down Under.

India play their first match on October 23 at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground against arch-rivals Pakistan. This is the most crucial match for the Indian side as a defeat in it could put them in deep waters to qualify. The main rivals, thereafter, are South Africa, Bangladesh and possibly the West Indies, if they qualify from their group games.

India should have got over their disappointing performance in the Asia Cup 2022, having beaten Australia and South Africa in a three-match T20I series at home. The only blemish for India was that they lost their last match against South Africa solely due to experimenting with their bench strength players — the reason being that India had already wrapped up the series and felt that they could do with a change.

One felt that India needed to keep their winning momentum intact, as a loss may not seem important but it has a lingering impact on a team’s confidence inadvertently.

The Indian team may rue the fact that their lethal frontline bowler in Jasprit Bumrah, unfortunately, due to injury, will not be a part of their side. However, India do have a battery of pacers to choose from in their fold.

The most difficult adaptation required for any side to play in Australia is to get used to their wickets and conditions. The additional bounce off the wicket is one area that has been difficult to handle for most batsmen. Fortunately, the Indian team will have a fortnight to get acclimatised through a few practice matches and net sessions.

The T20 game is one in which batters have to start playing their shots from the very first delivery. This is where the challenge lies for the Indian batters as the shots that one is used to playing in India on a particular delivery are hugely different from what one needs to play in Australia. Similarly for the bowlers, the length to bowl varies substantially from what one is used to back home.

India, on their last trip to Australia in 2020/21, did fairly well in both the T20I and Test series, and one hopes that they are able to recollect and adjust their game accordingly. They now have the time to do so.

India’s batting strength is far ahead of any of their rivals. A team that boasts of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav as the top-four batters and the likes of Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and the canny Dinesh Karthik to follow. This is a dream line-up for any side.

India also boast of having some very good spin options. They have a leg-spinner in Yuzvendra Chahal, the accurate left-arm spin of Axar Patel and the world’s top off-spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin. The larger Australian grounds will suit them far better, and both Melbourne and Sydney wickets have shown that one can derive turn on them as well. Spin will play a very important part in the tournament and India fortunately are well equipped in that department.

The only area of worry is in India’s pace bowling options. Although Bhuvneshwar Kumar is an experienced bowler, the likes of Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel have still to earn their spurs. Mohammed Shami as a replacement for Bumrah, if fit, would be an ideal option.

The Indian players, having had the advantage of playing the IPL, are now very familiar with the T20 concept and the situations that one confronts while playing it.

India started well in the Asia Cup by beating Pakistan but, thereafter, they faltered against them as well as Sri Lanka. The losses were not because of their cricketing skills but more in the way they approached the matches mentally.

The problem with the Indian team is the pressure that they put themselves into because of the hype that follows them. The millions of well-wishers and fans may look like a wonderful following but they can become a heavy burden to carry on ones’ shoulders as well.

Team India needs to approach the T20 World Cup without the worry of winning the Cup. They need to play in a carefree manner without thinking about the outcome. India’s victory in the inaugural tournament in the T20 World Cup in 2007 was achieved by a young side that one least expected to win because they played without a care.

India are the current No. 1-ranked T20 side in the world. This they have achieved through their consistent performances this year. The unfortunate fallout from being at the top is that everyone expects India to win. This has been the tale of woe since 2014 in all the multi-national ICC tournaments.

One feels that the Indian team looks far more comfortable and determined approaching this World Cup. The expectations of their followers are also much less, having been disappointed in the past. The time is just right for India to shine. A Diwali victory on the eve of the festival against Pakistan would be just the right way for India to start their campaign.

India have the firepower to win, it is only the mental belief to do so that they seem to falter on, when put under pressure.

The Indian Women’s cricket team seems to be on the verge of winning the Asia Cup 2022. Their victory could be just the catalyst and booster for the men to emulate.

{Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer)

International

Bangladesh might have succumbed to pressure v India; not taking fake fielding issue any further: Sriram

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Bangladesh coach Sridharan Sriram has conceded his team might have succumbed to pressure in the thrilling five-run loss to India in their Super 12 Group 2 match of the ICC T20 World Cup, and has also said he has no intention of taking the potential fake fielding incident involving Virat Kohli during the match any further.

Bangladesh were cruising along at 66 without loss in seven overs, with Litton Das coming out all guns blazing and snatching the advantage of making 184/6 from India through a breath-taking 59 not out off 26 balls — laced with seven fours and three sixes at a strike rate of 226.9 — when rain put a halt to his pyrotechnics.

Bangladesh’s target was revised from 185 in 20 overs to 151 in 16 overs. They needed 85 more runs in nine overs to win the match, with all wickets in hand. India’s bowling attack, which took a beating in the power-play, got the much-needed respite thanks to the rain break and they went on to win the match by five runs (D/L method).

Sriram agreed the rain delay and the revised target brought the pressure on his side and it crumbled.

“Well, it was quite frantic for that brief (last) 10-12 minutes (of the match), which is understandable. I think the boys, nine runs an over or 9.75 runs an over, definitely I think the pressure got to them a little bit. Yeah, it was a little bit of a frantic 15-20 minutes if I can put it, yes,” said Sriram, the former Australia spin-bowling coach.

Bangladesh are scheduled to play their last Super 12 game against Pakistan on Sunday with a win not guaranteeing them a place in the last four, but the results of the remaining two Group 2 games — South Africa vs Netherlands and India vs Zimbabwe — could facilitate their semifinal entry.

Much heat has been generated over on-field umpires missing a potential fake fielding incident involving Kohli, which could have earned Bangladesh five runs in penalties and a victory against India, but Sriram said he is not here “to offer any excuses” for the defeat.

Wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan accused Kohli of fake fielding during the match, claiming that the umpires missed the incident and could have resulted in the opposition getting crucial five runs as penalty. The incident that Hasan talked about going unnoticed took place in the seventh over of Bangladesh’s chase when Kohli feigned a throw while standing at point, as if he was relaying a throw coming from Arshdeep Singh from the deep off the bowling of Axar Patel.

Neither the on-field umpires, Marais Erasmus and Chris Brown, spotted it, nor did the two Bangladeshi batters, openers Litton Das and Najmul Hossain Shanto, out in the middle, pointed it out.

Law 41.5, pertaining to unfair play, prohibits the “deliberate distraction, deception or obstruction of (the) batter”, and if an incident is deemed to be a breach, the umpire can declare that particular delivery as dead ball, and award the batting side five runs. But Hasan didn’t mention if either of Das or Shanto spoke to him or to the team about distraction or deception from Kohli pretending to throw the ball to the keeper.

Shedding light on the controversy, Sriram said, “No, we are not here to offer any excuses. I did speak to the fourth umpire as soon as it happened, but I think it was the on-field umpire’s call, and that’s what we were told, but we’re not here to offer any excuses.”

Sriram said the focus now is to beat Pakistan and wait for the results of other matches to go in his team’s favour.

“I’ve been very clear in all my press conferences. We’re just taking it one game at a time, plan for one opposition at a time. Every game we want to go, we obviously want to win it, but we’re aware of what challenges Pakistan present. We played them in New Zealand just recently (in the Tri-series), and we have high respect for that team, so we’re going to turn up and be at our best on that day.”

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Adit, Nihaal lead a strong showing in third leg of US Kids Golf India; Five boys, two girls complete hat-trick of wins

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Adit Veeramachaneni of Bengaluru landed three eagles in a superb winning effort of 7-under 65 in the third leg of the US Kids Golf India at the links-style Golden Greens.

Adit, winner of the first two legs of the India series, completed a treble in the U-9 category.

Veeramachaneni was one of the five players in the Boys section to complete a hat-trick of wins. Two other players in the Girls section also completed a similar feat of three wins in three starts.

Among the outstanding performances in the third leg was Nihaal Cheema in the Boys Under-6. He carded an incredible six birdies in his nine-hole competition for a 6-under 30 score.

Divjot Singh playing in Boys U-7 Category gave the US Kids Golf India Series a milestone moment by holing his second shot at the 275-yard Par-5 fifth hole for the Tour’s first-ever albatross in India. Divjot’s second shot from just over 100 yards disappeared into the hole sparking off a big celebration.

Divjot also avenged the defeat he had suffered earlier at the hands of Kabir Goyal, who finished second this time.

The excellent scores were indicative of the talent on view, as six winners and one second placed player shot under par scores and another two winners had even par rounds. It meant that the players with under par scores will have a chance to qualify for the US Kids Golf’s World Championships in the US and the European events.

The six winners shooting under par at the Golden Greens included Nihaal Cheema (Boys U-6), Divjot Gupta (Boys U-7), Adit Veeramachaneni (Boys U-9) and Armin Paul Singh (Boys U-12) among boys and Amaira Gulati (Girls U-8) and Shambhavi Chaturvedi (Girls 11-12). Arnav Kumar (Boys U-9), runner-up in U-9, also shot 1-under.

The players completing a treble were: Nihaal Cheema (Boys U-6), Jot Sarup Singh (Boys U-8), Adit Veeramachaneni (Boys U-9), Chaitanya Pandey (Boys U-11) and Manyaveer Bhadoo (Boys 15-18).

Among the girls, Lucknow’s Amaira Gulati (U-8) and Gurgaon’s Mahreen Bhatia (Girls 13-14) made it three in a row.

Rajesh Srivastava, President of the US Kids Golf India, said, “It was a sensational day. Adit (Veeramachaneni) from Bengaluru and Nihaal Cheema carded brilliant scores of 7-under and 6-under. There was also the first-ever albatross in US Kids Golf India when Divjot Singh holed his second shot on the Par-5 in the U-7 category. The birdies and eagles also signalled the rising standards as the youngsters aim for berths at the World and European Championships, ahead of the Indian Championship later this month.”

Amit Dube, the Tournament Director, a former pro and now a coach, added, “The standard shows that these youngsters are ready for big events and American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) events. We look forward to a high level of play and more youngsters coming out in future.”

Fifty players teed up across the various age categories as they got ready for the Indian Championship, a three-day international event to be held from November 23-25, 2022. The Indian Championship, scheduled at the Classic Golf and Country Club, will have World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) points.

Players shooting 72 and below in at least two Local Tour events will earn Level 11 status and will earn AJGA Performance Star.

The US Kids local Tour is the only tournament giving opportunity to Players to earn AJGA Stars. The youngsters are looking to accumulate Priority Level status for the US Kids Europe and World Championships and the AJGA stars, which helps them get into numerous international events.

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West Indies U19 women’s team to tour India ahead of U19 T20 World Cup 2023

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Ashmini Munisar has been named skipper, while Trishan Holder will be her deputy in the 15-member West Indies women’s U-19 squad for the T20 tour of India beginning in Visakhapatnam on November 13.

The tour will feature matches against India-A Women U19, India-B Women U19 and Sri Lanka Women U19 at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy International Stadium in Visakhapatnam. West Indies will then travel to Mumbai where they will play against New Zealand Women U19 at the DY Patil Stadium.

The team will be under the guidance of head coach Steve Liburd. Munisar is an allrounder who led the team when West Indies U19 played against USA Women’s U19 in Fort Lauderdale in August. Vice-captain Holder is a top-order batter who was a member of the Barbados team at the Commonwealth Games playing matches against Pakistan, Australia and India.

The players for the T20 matches were selected after trial matches in Trinidad.

“As part of the preparation for the tour the squad was involved in some practice matches during a seven-day training camp in Trinidad. The final team selected contained some of the players who participated in the series in the USA and there are some new players who the panel would like to have a look at before a final team is selected for the World Cup,” said lead selector, Ann Browne-John.

“The composition of the team is quite balanced with some strong batters and a good mix of spin and medium pacers. It will be their first experience against top international teams and these tour matches will give a better indication of where the team is at the moment,” she added.

This series in the sub-continent will form a crucial part of the team’s preparations for the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup 2023. The global event will feature 41 matches be played from January 14-29 in South Africa.

The official warm-up matches will be from January 9-11. The 16 participating teams will play in four groups in the preliminary round. West Indies have been drawn in Group C alongside New Zealand, Ireland and Indonesia.

Full squad: Ashmini Munisar (captain), Trishan Holder, Asabi Callendar, Kenika Cassar, Jahzara Claxton, Naijanni Cumberbatch, Jannillea Glasgow, Realeanna Grimmond, Zaida James, Djenaba Joseph, KDJazz Mitchell, Shalini Samaroo, Shunelle Sawh, Lena Scott, Kate Wilmott.

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