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Saturday,06-March-2021

International

Disrespectful to India if England don’t play their best team: Kevin Pietersen

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Kevin Pietersen.

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has criticised England’s squad selection for the first two Tests against India, saying not selecting the best players in the squad would be disrespectful for the England fans as well the hosts — Indian cricket team.

Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran have been rested for the first two Tests against India beginning February 5, while Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Rory Burns — who are not part of the Sri Lanka series — have been recalled.

“Big debate on whether England have picked their best team to play India in the 1st Test. Winning in India is as good a feeling as winning in Australia. It’s disrespectful to England fans & also BCCI to not play your best team. Bairstow has to play! Broad/Anderson have to play!” Pietersen said in a tweet.

“The best England players will want to play as many games as possible against India, in India. Pick them! Then they go to IPL and earn everything they deserve. Cash is king for every sportsman. They’re a business! They can have a break after that!” he added.

Former skippers Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan have also criticised the England selectors for resting Bairstow.

“I would say it’s a concern that one of England’s best three players of spin — I would say Bairstow is alongside Joe Root and Ben Stokes in that — has been given a boarding pass home and the others are going to Chennai. I’d have to rethink,” Hussain wrote in his column for Sky Sports.

“If the next Test after this series was Brisbane in the Ashes, would we send our best side? So why when it’s the first Test against India, one of the great sides, aren’t we sending our best team? It is that balancing act of being fair to the public and winning what’s in front of you and long-term planning all year,” he added.

“The only player in England’s Top 3 that’s playing the sub continent conditions with any control or calmness is resting for the first 2 Tests against the best Team in world at home #India !!! The world is officially mad,” said Vaughan in a tweet.

The first two Tests of the four-match series are set to be played in Chennai, before the series moves to Ahmedabad. The third Test will be a day-night encounter, beginning on February 24.

England squad (for the first two Tests): Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler*, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes

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4th Test: Rishabh Pant’s 101, Sundar give India 89-run lead

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Rishabh Pant’s third Test century (101 off 118 balls) and Washington Sundar’s unbeaten 60 on Friday took India to 294/7 wickets at close of the second day of the fourth Test against England — a lead of 89 runs. Axar Patel was the other unbeaten batsman with 11.

Pant played a typical counter-attacking knock. He and Sundar scored 113 runs for the seventh wicket.

Brief scores: England 205 all out (Ben Stokes 55, Dan Lawrence 46; Axar Patel 4/68, Ravichandran Ashwin 3/47) India 294/7 wkts (Rishabh Pant 101, Washington Sundar 60 batting; James Anderson 3/40)

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Decision on lone Pakistani shooter for Delhi WC likely today

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A decision on granting visa to the lone Pakistani skeet shooter, Usman Chand, desiring to compete in this month’s New Delhi World Cup may come by the end of Friday.

National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) secretary general Razi Ahmed Khan said on Friday that the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had sent a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the NRAP on Wednesday and that the same was submitted to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on Thursday.

“We are expecting to get the visa on Friday. We had submitted the visa application form with the Indian High Commission last month so that there was no last-minute rush,” Khan told IANS from Pakistan on Friday.

The New Delhi World Cup, to be held from March 18 to 29 at the Karni Singh Shooting Ranges here, offers valuable ranking points for rifle and pistol events, but not for shotgun competition.

The issue of the Pakistani shooter competing at the World Cup could be a tricky one, considering what happened exactly two years ago.

For the 2019 shooting World Cup in New Delhi, India had not granted visas to two Pakistani shooters who wanted to compete in the men’s 25m rapid fire event. After Pakistan complained to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IOC withdrew qualification status for the 2020 Olympic Games from the World Cup in that event. The Olympics was later postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This happened in the interest of the other 500 athletes from 61 countries participating in the other events who are already in India for their competition,” the IOC had said in a statement at the time, after a decision to this effect was taken at its executive board meeting in Lausanne.

Around 300 competitors from 42 countries have expressed their desire to compete at this month’s New Delhi World Cup. The process of issuing the visa to Chand, a 36-year-old shotgun exponent, is underway, said an NRAI official.

“The visa process is on. We hope he would get necessary documents to travel to India for the World Cup,” the official told IANS.

Chand, who has a personal-best score of 122 out of 150, is the lone shooter entered by the NRAP for the World Cup. His current world ranking is 108 as per International Shooting Sport Federation. Chand, who finished fifth at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, has been active on the global circuit since 2013.

The Pakistani skeet shooter expressed his desire to compete in India, as he missed out on the Egypt shotgun World Cup, held from February 22 to March 5. Despite the Cairo World Cup carrying global ranking points, the Pakistan shooter’s name was missing from the field.

When asked why Chand didn’t compete in the Cairo World Cup, Khan said: “He has a good chance to earn valuable points to improve his world ranking. He is a contender for individual quota. So, he wants to compete in New Delhi World Cup.”

The NRAI will have to safeguard shooters and officials’ health in times of the pandemic during the 10-day World Cup.

“All the shooters will have to follow strict bio-bubble guidelines during the World Cup,” said the NRAI official.

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England eye lead as India reduced to 153/6 at Tea

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Ben Stokes took the all-important wicket of Rohit Sharma (49) as England continued to chip away at the Indian batting order in the second session of Day 2 of the fourth Test on Friday at the Narendra Modi Stadium. India ended the session on 153/6 with Rishabh Pant (36) and Washington Sundar (1) in the middle.

The hosts started on 80/4 after lunch with Sharma and Rishabh Pant in the middle. India’s run rate had crawled to a snail’s pace in the first session and Pant and Sharma looked to up the ante.

The partnership ended when Sharma was denied a 13th Test half century by Stokes. The umpire raised his finger after England appealed for LBW and Sharma reviewed the decision. Replays showed that the delivery jagged in to beat Sharma’s inside edge after which impact was shown as umpire’s call. Ashwin (13) was then dismissed late in the session by Leach.

Earlier, the hosts lost Cheteshwar Pujara (17), captain Virat Kohli (0) and Ajinkya Rahane (27) to end the first session of the day on 80/4. Jack Leach struck first by dismissing Pujara for the fourth time in this series. It ended a 40-run partnership between Pujara and Sharma that had seen India through to the end of play on the first day.

Stokes then dismissed Kohli for a duck. The ball rose on the Indian captain who ended up edging it to the wicketkeeper. Rahane then tried to up the scoring rate and eventually succumbed to Anderson having made 27 off 45 balls.

Brief scores: England 205 all out (Ben Stokes 55, Dan Lawrence 46; Axar Patel 4/68, Ravichandran Ashwin 3/47, Washington Sundar 1/15) vs India 153/6 (Rohit Sharma 49, Rishabh Pant 36 batting; James Anderson 2/19, Ben Stokes 2/33)

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