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Delhi Capital want grass on Kotla pitch, DDCA says it is impossible




Over the years, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has seen home teams preparing wickets to suit their strength. But Delhi Capitals’ request for wickets with grass has not been met by the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). In fact, even as head coach Ricky Ponting made his displeasure known after DC lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday, the DDCA has made it clear that it is impossible to provide pitches that will have grass at this stage of the season.

While Ponting said that it was the ‘worst wicket’ DC had played on – after the five-wicket loss to SRH – team advisor Sourav Ganguly personally met curator Ankit Datta and spoke to him for good 20 minutes.

Even though both Ganguly and the curator weren’t available for comment on their interaction post the game on Thursday, a senior DDCA official revealed that the team management wanted to discuss the kind of pitches that the home team would like to play on in their remaining home games. Delhi still have four games to go at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

Speaking to IANS, the DDCA official said that though discussions have taken place about DC wanting some grass on the wicket, but considering the number of matches that have been played on Kotla this season, it is impossible for the wicket to sport grass.

“The franchise has been asking for grass and a bit of pace on the wicket, but to be honest, it is just not possible. We have made this clear to them from the word go. At the fag end of the season, you cannot expect pace and bounce on the wickets. Even the practice wickets are slow and that gives them the perfect feel going into the game. We have tried to keep them as close to match conditions as possible.”

“We have had the Vijay Hazare Trophy here, the Deodhar Trophy here. After that the Ranji Trophy was played. We have just one ground here, so considering the amount of cricket that has been played on the square, it will be unfair on the groundsmen to ask for pitches with grass. But, there will be a two-week break now and there will be a certain amount of recovery and the wickets will definitely play a little better in the last four games. But this will still remain on the slower side and growing grass on the wickets now is just not possible,” he explained.

Delhi have failed to drive home the advantage at the Kotla. While they lost their first home game to Chennai Super Kings by six wickets, their next game against Kolkata Knight Riders ended in a tie before Kagiso Rabada won DC the game in the Super Over. And again in Thursday’s clash, the SRH bowlers made much better use of the wicket than the DC bowlers. Even the batsmen struggled to adjust to the slow nature of the wicket.

While Ponting has made his displeasure known, he has also asked the team to try and adapt to the conditions on offer. “At the end of the day it is the same pitch for both teams. But, if you ask me would I want to play Sunrisers on that type of pitch, that wicket absolutely suits them down to the ground. But if the wickets are going to be like this, we need to think about our selection as well. ”

“The shot selections did cost us right from the start. I don’t think Prithvi Shaw played a great shot considering how low the ball was bouncing. Some of our other senior players probably didn’t bat long into the innings either. One-thirty was short of what we were expecting. Even on a slow wicket, we expect our batting group to get 160-165 when we bat first. We need to talk about that and find a solution,” he said.


Fitness & mental clarity will be key in this year’s IPL, feels Suresh Raina




Veteran India and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batsman Suresh Raina feels fitness and clarity of thought will be the key when players take the field to participate in the 13th edition of of the Indian Premier League (IPL) which will be played in the UAE.

The BCCI will be organising the league at three venues — Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah — from September 19 to November 10 after it was postponed from March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This IPL, it would be very interesting to see how players are thinking, you are playing in different circumstances, you have a lot of protocols from ICC and at the same time, you are going through tests every two-three weeks, so I would say coming out from all those tests, you need to be clear with your head on what you are going to do on the field because at the end of the day when you are playing a sport, you need to enjoy your game,” Raina said on Wednesday during a webinar interaction on the sidelines of the launch of WTF fantasy gaming app.

“Then you can come out of the ground as a happy soul. So I believe, all tests will be done before the IPL and we will be in a good frame of mind because we all are sitting at home from last five months. I’m looking forward to this,” added the 33-year old who along with India women’s team T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur are the brand ambassadors for WTF fantasy gaming app.

Raina, the second highest run-getter in IPL history, also opined the wickets in Dubai would be like the ones in Chennai.

“There (wickets in Dubai) could be Chennai wickets. In this pandemic, a lot of challenges have happened (for the players) and fitness is the key,” he said.

“Luckily, we are going early in the UAE, so I think, right now there is humidity in Dubai, the weather is 40 degrees Celsius, sandstorm is there, but the best thing in Dubai is that you don’t have logistical problems, it is 45 minutes from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, you go from there to Sharjah, it’s 40 minutes,” said Raina who was part of the 2011 World Cup-winning team.

The left-handed batsman also said during this long break due to the pandemic, he got time to reflect on the time he spent on the field and analyse his performances over the years.

“We have not had such a long break. You look back at your old innings. You reflect on what you were thinking at that time and try to analyse. So when I hit the greens now, I feel we will enjoy a lot this time,” Raina said.

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Banking on mental strength & fitness to do well, says Harmanpreet Kaur




A long break can create doubts in your mind, but India’s T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur is banking on her mental strength and physical activity during the lockdown period to fire in the Women’s T20 Challenger games which will take place during the playoffs of the IPL in the UAE. The team has not played since the T20 World Cup final in March.

“When there is a long break and after that however good touch you are in, you start doubting yourself,” Harmanpreet said on Wednesday during a webinar interaction on the sidelines of the launch of WTF fantasy gaming app. Harmanpreet and veteran India batsman Suresh Raina are the brand ambassadors.

“Mental strength helps here and if you are mentally strong, it’s a long break. But I am not going to give up. Initially, I might have fear of injury but we have the advantage of working on our strength while at home. Those things are going to help us on the field. But physically we have tried to keep ourselves fit during this lockdown,” said the 31-year old.

Harmanpreet added that she is excited to play in the UAE for the first time.

“Yes definitely, I’m excited because this is our first tour to Dubai and we haven’t played there before. I had questions like how would the wickets be there, as a batter we need to think about these things. We need to play on our strength because if you don’t play to your strengths, then your natural game doesn’t come out.

“It is a very good idea to see the ball and play. Everybody has to remain clean on this idea and I hope that we grab the opportunity that we get. I hope we play good cricket in the four games that we will get and entertain everybody,” she said.

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Phased restart of training at SAI NCOEs from Oct 1, says kiren Rijiju




Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said that the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) National Centres of Excellence (NCOE) across the country will be opened in a “phased manner” starting on October 1.

In a review meeting held by the ministry and SAI, Rijiju also said that the re-opening of the NCOEs will be done only in accordance to the COVID-19 situation in the respective state.

Athletes who will be initially allowed for training apart from the elite athletes who are in the mix for the Tokyo Olympics would be juniors who have been shortlisted in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) Junior scheme.

Additionally, it has also been decided that the funds extended to all SAI NCOEs will be enhanced.

“Funds will be provided to upgrade existing infrastructure and equipment or procure new ones, as per the need of athletes. We are ready to provide all support needed to ensure that athletes in India have the best facilities at par with the world,” said Rijiju.

It has also been decided to increase awareness workshops held at the NCOEs including workshops on sexual harassment act with aim to make athletes aware of sexual harassment issues and about the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and motivate them to speak up against any form of harassment.

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