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COVID-19: Women cricketers warned to be extra vigilant ahead of World Cup

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Australian women’s cricket team chief selector Shawn Flegler has warned the players competing in the Ashes to be extra vigilant as they might not be allowed to enter New Zealand for the ICC Women’s World Cup in March if they test positive for COVID-19 during the series.

The Australian women’s team will play a multi-format series involving a Test, three T20Is and an equal number of ODIs against their England counterparts. The series commences on January 20 with the first T20I at the Adelaide Oval. The Test will be played at the Manuka Oval in Canberra from January 27. It will be followed by three ODIs, beginning in Canberra on February 3 and concluding in Melbourne on February 8.

With the ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand scheduled from March 4, Flegler said Cricket Australia (CA) is apprehensive that players might contract COVID-19 despite the biosecurity protocols in place for the women’s Ashes.

The Australian Ashes squad will be announced next week and the players will then have to comply with pre-series biosecurity protocols before going into camp in Adelaide on January 17, according to cricket.com.au. “They will take part in the multi-format series against England before leaving for a 10-day quarantine period in New Zealand ahead of the World Cup,” said the portal.

New Zealand Health (NZH) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) have clarified that late additions to Australia’s World Cup squad of 17 will not be allowed under current regulations.

“It’s going to be tough,” said chief selector Shawn Flegler when asked if players testing COVID-19 positive just before the scheduled flight to New Zealand will be allowed to travel at a later date.

“Our plans are still that we’ll go as a group straight after the Ashes. If things do change and we can get players over later, then we’ll look to do that.

“But at the moment, it’s one group leaving and doing quarantine together. So that’s why we’re trying to put protocols in place to minimise any issues with COVID (during the Ashes). But as we’ve seen over the last few weeks with the BBL and other competitions, it can be very difficult. We’re trying to minimise that and control it as much as we can, but I think we’ve got to expect that something may happen,” added Flegler.

With stringent travel protocols in place, it raises the prospect of key players missing the global event if they contract the virus in early February and are forced to isolate. It would mean they’ll miss the only chance to fly to New Zealand with their teammates.

“The way that we’re looking at it is we have to be prepared that there’ll be players who will miss games. The strength that we do have is we’ve got a number of players that could come in and take the place of someone who does have COVID. We need to keep in mind England as well. Their focus is on the Ashes but also on defending the World Cup title.

“If we do have to tighten things down towards the back end of the series (to minimise risk ahead of the World Cup), we will look to do that.”

International

Lovlina elected chair of IBA Athletes Committee, Shiva member

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 India’s Tokyo Olympic s bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain has been elected as chairman and voting member on the Board of Directors for the IBA’s Athletes Committee, the International Boxing Association (IBA) has announced.

Indian male boxer Shiva Thapa has also been elected as a member of the IBA Athletes Committee, during the corresponding elections held during the 2021 IBA Men’s World Championships, the IBA announced on Wednesday.

Lovlina had received the highest number of votes during the election held at the 2022 Women’s World Championship and thus has been elected as chair of the board.

Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh Thakur has congratulated both Lovlina and Shiva, who are under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS, and have accepted the roles. They are looking forward to representing India and other boxers at the Board of Directors meeting.

“Big congratulations @LovlinaBorgohai for being elected the Chair of the @IBA_Boxing Atheletes’ Committee and @shivathapa for being elected a Member of @IBA_Boxing Athletes’ Committee. It’s a big responsibility and I wish both of you the very best in delivering your duties,” Thakur wrote on Twitter.

Speaking of being elected as the Chair, Lovlina said, “I feel honoured to have been elected as the chair of IBA’s Athlete’s Committee, I expected to become a member, but never thought that I will also become the chair of the committee, this will help me promote Indian boxing and especially women boxing to other boxers of the world.”

“This is a huge opportunity for me to promote boxing and I plan to first discuss what all needs to be addressed in Boxing this year with other members and boxers of the world and then take those suggestions and grievances to the Board of Director’s committee,” Lovlina was quoted as saying in a release by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).

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IPL 2022: Bangalore vs Rajasthan will be a royal encounter as both teams want to win badly, says Ravi Shastri

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Former India captain and head coach Ravi Shastri believes the Qualifier 2 clash in IPL 2022 between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday will be a royal affair as both teams want to be on the victorious side to play the title clash against Gujarat Titans on Sunday.

“It’s been 14 years for RCB (as they’ve never owned that elusive silverware) and 13 years since Rajasthan won their last title in the inaugural season. So between the two of them, it’s been 27 years (laughs). They both want it badly and it will be a battle of Royals. Let’s wait for that one. It’s going to be a great contest as both the teams would want to win it badly,” said Shastri on the Cricket Live show on Star Sports.

In IPL 2022, both Bangalore and Rajasthan have showcased great skills and class to bring themselves into a position where they can end their title drought. While Bangalore are yet to win an IPL trophy, Rajasthan have been searching for the elusive title since winning the inaugural IPL season in 2008.

Former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith believes Qualifier 2 will be a cracker of a contest. Smith, who was a part of the Rajasthan Royals side in winning the 2008 IPL, reckons the pressure will be on Sanju Samson & Co. as they are heading into the game on the back of a seven-wicket defeat in Qualifier 1 to Gujarat while Bangalore come into the match after defeating Lucknow Super Giants by 14 runs in the Eliminator.

“I think the challenge will be on Rajasthan Royals after their disappointing loss against Gujarat Titans (in Qualifier 1). They must be hurt. Can they pick themselves up? RCB on the other hand are on a high. They’ll be keen to turn it around and put back a high skill level in the game. So, I agree with Ravi that we are going to have a cracker of a game on Friday night,” concluded the former left-handed batter.

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IPL Turning Point: Missed chances cause Lucknow Super Giants’ downfall in Eliminator

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 Despite the delay in the Eliminator match between Lucknow Super Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens due to last-minute rain and strong winds, the capacity crowd got full value for their money with a run-fest in which Bangalore prevailed by 14 runs to set up their Qualifier 2 date with Rajasthan Royals on Friday in Ahmedabad.

The result also meant that Lucknow’s campaign in their debut season of the IPL came to a close, caused by their missed chances. The trio of Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli, and Glenn Maxwell contributed just 34 runs as Rajat Patidar produced a carnage, a 49-ball century, which no one saw coming.

In a game of fine margins, Lucknow will look back at their missed chances in the field as well as with the bat in coming close to chasing 208. In the 15th over, captain KL Rahul was guilty of giving Dinesh Karthik a reprieve at four when he ran across and dived back at mid-off to catch with both hands. But as soon as Rahul’s elbows hit the ground, he couldn’t hold on.

Then, in the next over, Rajat Patidar got a pull high on elevation off a Ravi Bishnoi googly. But Deepak Hooda dropped an easy chance at deep mid-wicket, giving Patidar a boundary and reprieve at 72. In the 18th over, just a ball before reaching his century in 49 balls, Patidar got a reprieve again when Manan Vohra at deep backward point couldn’t take the catch coming off a leading edge.

Dropping three catches in four overs proved to be fatal for Lucknow as Bangalore smacked a whopping 84 runs off the last five overs.

“It’s quite obvious the reasons why we didn’t win the game. We let ourselves down in the field. The difference between the teams was Patidar’s knock (112 not out off 54 balls). When a player from the top ends up playing a good knock, the team ends up winning,” said Rahul about what went wrong for Lucknow in the Eliminator.

With the bat, Rahul took time in accelerating as Vohra and Quinton de Kock fell in power-play. Though the skipper was interested in taking the chase deep, his stoic batting against the spinners meant that even though Lucknow were ahead of Bangalore in the over-over by comparison metric, the path to hunting down 208 was getting tougher.

With 99 needed off the last seven overs, Rahul finally accelerated to move from 48 off 42 balls to 79 off 58 balls. But with Harshal Patel conceding just eight runs despite leaking six runs in the start as extras in the 18th over, things got tough for Lucknow.

It was Josh Hazlewood, who produced the knockout punch in the 19th over when Rahul moved across to scoop, only to be caught by a leaping fine leg, enough to seal the match in Bangalore’s favour as Rahul’s late acceleration went in vain, signaling the end of the road for Lucknow in IPL 2022.

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