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Saturday,19-June-2021

International

David Warner returns to Australia Test squad

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David Warner will likely play the last two Test matches against India in the ongoing series after selectors named him in the Australia squad for the Sydney and Brisbane games and dropped out-of-form Joe Burns.

Warner was excluded from the squad that featured in the first two Tests, in Adelaide and Melbourne, following a groin injury he suffered during the second One-day International in Sydney last month.

“David has made strong progress in his recovery from injury and will be given every chance to play in Sydney with another seven days until the match,” said selector Trevor Hohns in a statement released by Cricket Australia.

Hohns said that Burns’s performance has not been up to scratch.

“Unfortunately, Joe’s returns haven’t been what he or the selectors would like or what we consider he is capable of,” added Hohns.

Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris are the other two openers in the Australia Test squad.

Pucovski returns after he was ruled of the first two Tests after suffering concussions during the December 6-8 warm-up game against India A at Sydney’s Drummoyne Oval.

“Will is in the final stages of the graduated return to play protocols and has been symptom-free for some time. He will be fit to play in Sydney subject to completing the return to play protocols and an independent assessment,” added Hohns.

Sean Abbott also makes a comeback.

Australia squad: Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins (vice-captain), Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner.

International

ICC to partner UNICEF in fundraiser for Covid relief

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The International Cricket Council (ICC), through its ‘Cricket for Good initiative’, has launched a fundraising campaign to support UNICEF’s emergency Covid-19 response in South Asia.

The campaign was launched ahead of the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final being played between India and New Zealand in Southampton from Friday.

The world cricket governing body said in a statement that, “ICC’s support to UNICEF at this critical time will harness the power and reach of cricket, one of the world’s most popular sports, to safeguard the lives and futures of children.

“As part of the campaign, ICC will leverage its audience base on its digital channels to contribute to UNICEF. ICC with UNICEF shall display joint appeals on its digital platforms, LED perimeter boards and replay screens at the venue, for its broadcast audiences to donate directly to UNICEF’s donation platform.”

In-game commentary will also reach out to audiences for their support.

Acting ICC CEO Geoff Allardice said, “By partnering with UNICEF to support their Covid-19 relief work, we can use the global platform provided by the inaugural World Test Championship Final to raise urgent funds that can make a real difference. We appeal to cricket fans around the world to come together to show their support for the work of UNICEF at such a difficult time and donate to such a worthwhile cause.”

In addition, ICC along with Tech Mahindra, the merchandise partner for the WTC Final, have launched a Covid-19 relief range and 10 per cent of the proceeds will go to UNICEF’s relief work in South Asia.

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NZ to focus on fast bowling in WTC final: Kane Williamson

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Hours before the start of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against India at the Ageas Bowl here, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said his team would be focusing on its main strength – bowling – when it takes on the Virat Kohli-led side on Friday.

In a video posted on the International Cricket Council (ICC) website, Williams said on Friday that, “For us we want to focus on the cricket that we want to play. It’s important to our team to go out there and enjoy the occasion. A number of guys that have been playing well, same bowlers that have been contributing really well for a period of time, which is great,” said Williamson, indicating that the New Zealand fast-bowling battery will come hard at India over the next few days.

“There is some depth in that (bowling) department, which is very important to our team, so there’ll be some tricky but good conversations to have in finalising them (bowlers). There’s been a lot of growth in our side over a period of time, so many challenges along the way every day and the World Test Championship final is a culmination of that,” said Williamson.

During the recently-concluded two-Test series against England, New Zealand bowlers were a handful for the hosts, helping the visitors win 1-0.

While in the first Test at Lord’s, New Zealand batsman Devon Conway slammed a double century and Tim Southee took six first-innings wickets, in the second Test at Edgbaston, Trent Boult and Matt Henry took four and three wickets respectively in the first innings to put England on the back-foot.

The duo returned in the second innings to help New Zealand to an eight-wicket win.

Williamson said New Zealand will take India lightly at its own risk.

“We know in cricket anything can happen. This is the final and both teams need to win, so both teams have prepared as well as they could. It is a one-off in cricket and anything can happen. We’re really looking forward to the match the players are looking forward to getting involved.

“We’ll be realistic, we know India are an incredibly strong side all around the world, and rightly so. (They are) recognised as the best team. You have these (ICC) rankings, all these types of different things. They take slightly different shapes every day, but we know that the challenges are very, very strong against this Indian side,” said Williamson, indicating that ICC Test rankings don’t matter when playing against a strong opposition like India.

New Zealand are the No. 1 Test team in the world, while India are second.

“For us we want to focus on the cricket that we want to play,” added Williamson.

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WTC final just another feather to add in this big hat: Virat Kohli

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India skipper Virat Kohli said on Friday that the World Test Championship (WTC) final was “just another feather to add in this big hat that we have created” and that there were many more milestones to come.

India take on the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton in a few hours from now, with a prize of Rs 12 crore along with an ICC Test Championship Mace as reward for the winner.

However, Kohli said in a video posted on the International Cricket Council (ICC) website on Friday that, “For us this is not the final frontier; this is just another feather to add in this big hat that we have created as a Test team.

“And this is not just good cricket over the last 7-8 months. This is (the result of) hard work and toil for the last 4-5 years, understanding what kind of players we need, understanding the strengths that we need as a Test side, the kind of bowling line-up we need to win Test matches everywhere in the world, the kind of batsmen we need with different roles to play in the squad. Identifying (all) those players.

“And, eventually, here we are playing the final of a World Test Championship, which, honestly, when we started our journey, we did not think that something of this magnitude will be conducted for Test cricket. But it’s the right step forward; it’s the right direction to take,” Kohli said commending the ICC for its efforts.

“We certainly feel that we have our goals set on the larger vision for Indian cricket and this (WTC final) is just a game which has a bit more value added to it, but for us, every Test match over the last five years probably has been of same value, and hence, we have been the top side for the last 3-4 years in Test cricket,” felt Kohli.

Williamson said the journey to pinnacle of world Test was a challenging one.

“I suppose, we are a small country, and everybody has their different challenges and it’s trying to commit to what is important to us as a group. We’ve got a really good opportunity coming up in the (WTC) final against the best team in the world and that’s great.”

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