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Tuesday,26-January-2021

National

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

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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.

National

One of the grittiest batters in the game, Cheteshwar Pujara turns 33

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Cheteshwar Pujara on Monday turned 33 and his teammates, including Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin, led the pouring in of wishes for India’s Test batting mainstay.

During the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia, Pujara faced a total of 928 balls — the fifth-most by a visiting batsman in Australia in four or fewer Tests.

He scored 271 runs at a strike rate of 33.88, with the help of 29 fours and played a key role in India’s remarkable Test series victory, which included a historic win at the Gabba in Brisbane. As India chased down 328 in the final innings, Pujara endured as amany as 11 blows but put up a “great wall” against the Aussie onslaught.

During the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar series Down Under, Pujara had faced a total of 1,258 deliveries and had scored 521 runs at an average of 74.43 and a strike rate of 41.21 with the help of 50 fours and two sixes.

“Happy birthday pujji. Wish you good health, happiness and more hours at the crease. Have a great year ahead,” tweeted India skipper Kohli.

“He makes playing hours of cricket look easy and is one of the strongest guys I know. Happy birthday Puji,” said Ajinkya Rahane, who led India to their second Test series win in Australia, in an Instagram story.

“He takes body blows, grinds it out in the middle, braves it all & stands tall. 81 Tests, 6111 runs, 13572 balls faced, 18 hundreds. Here’s wishing Team India’s Mr. Dependable Cheteshwar Pujara a very happy birthday,” the official Twitter handle of BCCI said in their wishes.

“Happy birthday to the Wall 2.0 Cheteshwar Pujara. One of the grittiest batters in the game,” said the International Cricket Council (ICC) while extending birthday wishes.

Ashwin posted a video on social media to wish Pujara and termed the Indian batsman “Rock of Gibraltar”. In the video, Ashwin’s daughter can be seen extending birthday greetings to Pujara.

“Many more happy returns of the day Rock of Gibraltar Cheteshwar Pujara, can’t thank you enough for being my bunny though,” Ashwin said.

“Wishing you a very happy birthday Cheteshwar Pujara bhai. May you continue winning games for India and score a lot of runs,” said Umesh Yadav.

“Wishing a very happy birthday Birthday @cheteshwar1 who put his body on the line for the country proud of the brave fight you gave the Aussies! Best wishes for the England series,” tweeted Yuvraj Singh.

Pujara has played a total of 81 Tests for India in which he has scored 6,111 runs. Besides, he has also played five ODIs for the Men in Blue in which he amassed 51 runs.

He will next be seen in action in the four-match Test series against England beginning February 5 in Chennai.

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National

Shikhar Dhawan’s boat ride spells trouble for boatman

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Cricketer Shikhar Dhawan’s boat ride on the Ganga river in Varanasi, has landed the boatman in trouble.

Dhawan was seen in photographs, feeding birds during a boat ride.

Varanasi District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma told a news agency that action would be taken against the boatman but not the tourist.

“It was made clear by the police and the administration to the boatmen that they should not allow the tourists on their boat to feed the birds. Whosoever flouted these rules will be served notice and they will be asked as to why their license should not be cancelled.

“No action will be taken against the tourists,” Sharma was quoted as saying by the media.

The state government has banned feeding of birds by tourists in the wake of the bird flu scare.

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National

England to start summer with two-Test series against Black Caps

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England will start their home international summer with a two-Test series against New Zealand beginning June 2, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Monday.

The two Tests will be played at Lord’s (June 2-6) and Edgbaston (June 10-14).

Then England will face Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series at Sophia Gardens (June 23 and 24) and The Ageas Bowl (June 26). These matches will be followed by a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka between June 29 and July 4.

After the Sri Lanka series, England will take on Pakistan in three ODIs and as many T20Is from July 8 to 20.

“The prospect of our England men’s team taking on the world’s two top-ranked Test nations in New Zealand and India this summer is something for us all to savour,” ECB CEO Tom Harrison said in a statement.

Currently, the Joe Root-led England are in Sri Lanka participating in a two-match Test series. After that, they will be travelling to India to compete in four-match Test series, followed by five T20Is and three ODIs.

India will also be touring England for a five-match Test series, currently scheduled to begin from August 4 in Nottingham.

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