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Saturday,17-April-2021

International

Concentrated on improving myself when I was out: Axar Patel

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Spinner Axar Patel has said that he concentrated on improving his game to block out the negative thoughts as much as possible when he was out of the Indian team for the past three years.

Patel stormed into the Indian Test team during the four-match series against England, picking two five-wicket haul and six-fer in his debut and second Test to help India come from 1-0 down to leading the series 2-1.

Patel had already played two ODIs and 11 T20Is for India. However, he had been out of the senior national setup since a T20I against South Africa in Cape Town on February 24, 2018.

“When I was out of the team for the last three years, I was concentrating on what I needed to work on. A lot of people ask why you are not there in the team when you are not selected despite performing so well in the Indian Premier League and for India A,” said Patel in a conversation with India team mate Hardik Pandya in a video posted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on its website.

“These questions come to my mind also and so I just think that I will wait for my chance and when I get it I will give it my 100 per cent. My friends and family who helped me over the past two three years, and this includes you (Pandya), all of you have taught me how to tackle problems,” he further said.

Patel’s debut in the longest format of the game came during India’s second Test against England in Chennai. He recorded figures of 2/40 and 5/60 in that match before leading India to victory at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera near Ahmedabad, where he plays his home matches for Gujarat in domestic cricket. Patel dismantled England with figures of 6/38 and 5/32 as India won the only day-night Test of the series in just two days.

“It feels great. It is only my second match and the first in Motera. I loved it when the crowd chanted ‘Axar, Axar!’ when I came on to the ground. When the local crowd cheers for you it feels even better because my family was sitting in the stands. I have played all my life in front of them and my coaches,” said Patel.

Pandya also said in the video that he is proud of Patel’s performance. “As a friend I can tell you that we have been waiting for Axar’s debut for a long time. The way he has made it, we are all very proud of him. It has been all about hard work, patience and honesty which is very important in this sport,” said Pandya.

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Barcelona president ‘convinced’ Lionel Messi will remain at Camp Nou

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta is “convinced” Lionel Messi will sign a new contract to stay with the La Liga giants.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and the 33-year-old’s future with Barca is far from certain amid strong links to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester City, DPA reported.

Laporta remains determined to re-sign Messi, who has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou.

As Barca prepare for the weekend’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao, Laporta was asked about the record six-time Ballon d’Or winner. “Everything is progressing adequately,” Laporta said.

“I will do everything within the club’s capabilities to get him to stay. That’s what we’re doing. Messi is motivated. He is an extraordinary person and I am convinced that he will want to continue at Barca.”

Messi has scored a league-high 23 goals and supplied eight assists in 28 La Liga appearances for Barca this season.

In total, Messi has netted 29 goals across all competitions in 2020-21.

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Had I adapted a bit earlier, things would have been different: Ankita Raina

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India’s top-ranked singles tennis player Ankita Raina conceded after her loss to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in the Billie Jean King Cup World Group play-off match that had she adapted to the Latvian world No. 52’s game a bit earlier, “things would probably have been a bit different”.

At the end of the day on Friday, India were 0-2 down in the five-match rubber with both Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi losing their singles matches to higher-ranked Latvian opponents, Ostapenko and Anastasija Sevastova, respectively.

“As the first set went through, I understood what she (Ostapenko) was doing and what I needed to change in my game. It was good that I could adapt to her game, but it probably would have been a bit different had I done that (adapted) a bit earlier,” said the world’s 174th-ranked singles player after losing 2-6, 7-5, 5-7 to the Latvian.

“When you play for your country, you fight for each point and that was seen in the match. I felt that I could have done a bit better in the first set and I did catch up (to win the second set), but Ostapenko has also played such matches before and played at the best level,” the Indian, who will take on Anastasija Sevastova in the reverse singles, said at the post-match press conference.

Ostapenko is the winner of the 2017 French Open title.

Raina, whose game had improved several notches this year, added, “I’ve said I belong to this level and my game has improved. I was very confident going into the match and I did feel that anything could happen. So, I was not thinking too much about the result. But it’s natural that when you are representing your country, you do have some nerves.”

On the reverse singles match, the Indian said, “It’s a new day, a new match. I will be ready and more than prepared and do my recovery that is needed to be ready for the match (against Sevastova).”

For Karman Kaur Thandi, who lost to Sevastova 4-6, 0-6, it was a “huge learning experience playing against a top-50 player for the first time”.

“Now, I need to work on my physical aspect going forward. Playing at this level after a couple of years, and also having not played against a top-50 player, the experience was pretty good, especially the intensity was there in the first set but I got broken twice which made the difference,” said Thandi.

“If you just look at the first set, I was pretty much there, and it could have gone either side. In the second set, the intensity dropped a little bit from my side, and she (Sevastova) also started playing a little bit more solid.”

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I know I am paid to slog: Chris Morris

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A few days after he was denied strike on the last ball of the match against Punjab Kings as his captain Sanju Samson thought he won’t be able to clear the boundary, Rajasthan Royals (RR) all-rounder Chris Morris proved he is no muck with the bat as he led RR to a fascinating three-wicket win over Delhi Capitals.

Morris, who hit an unbeaten 18-ball 36 laden with four sixes, however said he had no regrets on being denied strike although his reaction in Monday’s match after being sent back by Samson was one of bemusement and a sarcastic smile.

“I was going to run back no matter what to sacrifice because Sanju was hitting it so sweetly. Sanju was hitting it like a dream, I wouldn’t have been too upset if he had hit the last ball for a six,” said Morris about the incident in Monday’s game.

Morris, who was bought for Rs 16.25 crore at the IPL mini-auction, said that he knows he is being paid to hit big.

“There are guys who get paid to bat and there are guys who get paid to slog, I know what I am. I am a slogger that swings everything I can, I play so much golf,” he added.

RR had earlier restricted DC to 147/8 in 20 overs and the right-handed batsman and right-arm bowler from South Africa said that he would have taken that target before the start of the match.

“If we had to chase 140-odd when we got here, we would have taken it, so happy to get over the line…it’s quite nice to know that we can win a game from anywhere after being down in the dumps. That’s T20 cricket,” he added.

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