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Monday,26-September-2022

International

CLOSE-IN: Why was the Indian team not brave enough?

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The reality of not qualifying for the knock-out stage of the T20 World Cup has finally hit the millions of Indian die-hard cricket followers. One hoped and wished that the festival of lights, Diwali, would bring in some divine blessings. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

The Indian team played their last three matches like champions, but it was all in vain. The defeat against Pakistan and New Zealand in the two initial matches was a telling blow. Maybe, if India had played the lower-order teams earlier, they would have got the initial momentum to get them started.

Indian captain Virat Kohli’s remark as regards his team not being brave enough after the loss against New Zealand made one think seriously as to why he said so.

When one thinks about it, one wonders as to why a team that showed such aggression and positivity went into a shell.

Quite understandably, the loss against Pakistan had taken a major toll on the mental state of all the Indian players. A defeat against their foremost opponent is one that is unacceptable. This applies to both the countries and one that was the downfall of the Pakistan team in the last ODI World Cup when they lost to India.

The Indian team was unsettled when they played New Zealand and when put in to bat, the dew-factor syndrome put them further downhill mentally.

The main reason that one can pinpoint is the plethora of cricket that the Indian side is playing. The country boasts of a cupboard full of players where players are easily replaceable and interchangeable. In the last five years, India has had a battery of bowlers and batters not only in the playing eleven, but also as a part of the Indian squad.

The selection of players has become the most confusing aspect of Indian cricket. A good show in the Indian Premier League and a player finds himself directly into the Indian squad.

The bio-bubble could be another reason that may have had a severe effect on the Indian team, being on the road for the last six months. However, on the other hand it has been a boon for the players on the bench.

Earlier the touring squad consisted of 15 players who would replace one another. However, this was not the case in the present situation. A massive squad of batters and bowlers accompanying the side gives one many alternative options.

India’s magnificent performance in Australia showed how players who normally would never have played for the country were thrown into the deep end and most of them came through with flying colours.

Another reason could be the excessive amount of cricket that has not only required players to take a break but also because of this, many have succumbed to injuries. This looked fine on paper, but what finally happened was that the chopping and changing did not give India a settled batting or bowling unit.

The newer players who did well were replaced by the older reputed ones on their return. One more factor was that the IPL became the benchmark of a player’s skill, ability and mental strength. The difference between playing cricket for a franchise side and for one’s country is like chalk and cheese. There may have been a few players who have emerged and been successful, but should not be made into a practice.

India became a victim of its own cricket success. The options of many players and the shuffling of players regularly have brought about the biggest worry of a player — “the scare of failure”. Both in the ODI and the T20 World Cup, the Indian batting and bowling never looked settled because most of the players had someone else looking over their shoulder.

This is why the Indian side was tentative in both the limited-overs World Cups and did not show the bravery one expected from them. The thought of losing and not being the villain is what the prime reason was for this mental state of the Indian cricketers.

This, one feels, have been the reasons for India to fail time and again on big occasions.

The next T20 World Cup will be held next year and the ODI the year after. The Indian think tank of the selectors and Rahul Dravid the coach have to identify the players for each spot and pursue with them relentlessly. They need to show consistency in their thinking and be brave in their selections.

Indian cricket has all the ingredients to be world champions; it is putting it all together effectively that is a matter of concern.

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Hayley Matthews to lead West Indies women in white-ball series against New Zealand

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Newly-appointed captain Hayley Matthews will lead the West Indies side to take on New Zealand Women in three ODIs from September 16-22 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here.

The side sees the return of the experienced wicketkeeper-batter Natasha McLean. The squad was selected based on the performances in the recently concluded 6ixty and the Women’s Caribbean Premier League (WCPL) tournaments.

The 17-member provisional squad will be pruned down to 13 a day before the start of the series.

The five T20 Internationals are scheduled for September 25 to October 6.

For the ODI series, West Indies will be looking to build on the progress after reaching the semifinals of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year. The team will then look to the five T20I matches as part of their preparations for the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa in January.

Mandy Mangru and Kaysia Schultz have also joined the players in Antigua for a 10-day training camp led by head coach Courtney Walsh.

“The New Zealand series is very important on the women’s cricket landscape not only because it starts a new cycle, but also because it is part of the preparation leading towards the T20 World Cup in South Africa,” CWI’s lead selector for women’s cricket, Ann Browne-John, said.

“With a few senior players unavailable at this time, for different reasons, like the experienced Anisa Mohammed, Kycia Knight and recently retired Deandra Dottin, the selectors were still able to get a blend of senior and developing players including Under-19 player Jannillea Glasgow and returning players Natasha McLean and Sheneta Grimmond. Ultimately, we believe that captain Hayley Matthews, in her first series, will have a promising squad of players to start building with,” added Browne-John

Full squad: Hayley Matthews (C), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Afy Fletcher, Cherry Ann Fraser, Shabika Gajnabi, Jannillea Glasgow, Sheneta Grimmond, Chinelle Henry, Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Shakera Selman, Stafanie Taylor, Rashada Williams.

Schedule: ODI Series – September 16, 18 and 22. T20I Series – September 25, 28, Oct 1, 4 and 6.

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India drawn in an interesting pool for 2023 Hockey World Cup, feels Sreejesh

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Veteran India hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels his side has been drawn in an “interesting pool” for the FIH Odisha World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, scheduled to be played from January 13-29, with the likes of England and Wales adding to the excitement.

The Indian team has been drawn in Pool D with England, Spain and Wales in the showpiece event.

“It is an interesting pool. England, Spain and Wales all three are really good teams. Having played England and Wales at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games recently, I feel it will be a tough competition. But, we don’t need to think about it right now. At present, it’s all about us. We are going step-by-step and working on our game at the national camp. We are very excited and looking forward to playing the World Cup at home for the second consecutive time,” said 34-year-old Sreejesh, who played a big role in India returning from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a bronze medal after four decades.

About the team’s prospects in the Pro League 2022-23 matches, Sreejesh said the matches in Odisha will be like a mock test for the 2023 World Cup.

“The Pro League is the best platform for us because we get to play against some of the top teams. The upcoming matches at home will be like a mock test for us, it will help us for the real challenge which we will face in January 2023. It will also help us in providing young players the experience of playing high-level hockey. So, it’s a great opportunity for us as it will sort of help us set the tempo for the World Cup,” said Sreejesh a veteran of 266 international matches.

Sreejesh, who has been nominated for the FIH Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year Award 2021-22, credited team effort for his nomination for the award which he won last year.

“It is an honour for me to be nominated for the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year award category. Even though I have been nominated as an individual, it wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates, who have been giving their best each and every day for the team. I am privileged to have such amazing teammates and coaching staff which has helped me bring out the best of my game and helped me to take it to another level.”

The experienced goalkeeper added, “Every time I get nominated for the awards, I feel I am raising the bar for myself and for the youngsters who aspire to become goalkeepers. If you want to reach this level, you have to keep working hard and strive to be better every day.”

Apart from Sreejesh, Harmanpreet Singh (FIH Player of the Year Men), Savita (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year Women), Sanjay (FIH Rising Star of the Year Men), Mumtaz Khan (FIH Rising Star of the Year Women), Graham Reid (FIH Men’s Team Coach of the Year Men) and Janneke Schopman (FIH Women’s Team Coach of the Year Women) have also been nominated for FIH Hockey Star Awards 2021-22.

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Indian cricketer Veda Krishnamurthy to get engaged, proposal photos go viral

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 Indian women’s cricket team batter Veda Krishnamurthy is set to enter a new phase of life. Her family sources confirmed that her engagement ceremony will be held in Bengaluru on September 18.

Veda Krishnamurthy will get engaged to upcoming cricketer Arjun Hoysala. Both Arjun and Veda have shared the photos of their special moments on social media and the images have gone viral.

Veda Krishnamurthy has been going through a rough patch after losing her mother and sister to Covid-19. She is presently not in the Indian team and working her ways to get back into the side.

The photo of Arjun kneeling before Veda Krishnamurthy and proposing to her has gone viral. Arjun has captioned the photo “And she said ‘yes'”. The couple has also shared photos of them at a picturesque location in Karnataka.

Arjun, a left-handed batter, has played for Karnataka in Ranji Trophy. He had also played for various franchises in the Karnataka Premier League.

Veda Krishnamurthy, an all-rounder who is a member of the Karnataka women’s cricket team, has played 48 ODIs and 76 T20Is. She was part of the Indian team in the ODI World Cup in 2017 and the T20 World Cup in 2020.

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