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Saturday,17-April-2021

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Germany tour will be test of skills, fitness: Rani Rampal

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The Indian women’s hockey team’s fitness and skills will be tested during their tour of Germany and will be valuable match practice in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, said captain Rani Rampal. The team is set to face world No.3 Germany in four matches starting on Saturday.

This is India’s second assignment since their tour of Argentina that ended earlier this month. “It is going to be a totally different experience than the Argentina tour. From our skills to fitness level, everything will be tested, and that’s what we as a team want,” said Rani.

“It will be a challenging tour for us, considering we will be playing back-to-back matches, but I feel we are up for any kind of challenges thrown at us. To be honest, there’s no extra pressure as such. Our priority, for now, is to get into that competitive frame of mind. The experience of playing against a top team like Germany will really add value to our preparations for the Olympic Games,” Rani, 26, added.

The team had returned from their tour of Argentina on February 4 and they reached Germany on February 23.

“Argentina tour helped us gain confidence, and we are really boosted for our next assignment. These back-to-back tours in a short span are like golden opportunities for us. We are just months away from the Tokyo Olympics, and these matches against top teams will help us in finding loopholes and gain momentum before the Games,” said Rani.

India play back to back matches against Germany on Saturday and Sunday. After a day’s break, the two sides face each other in consecutive games again on March 2 and 3.

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Buoyant RCB take on KKR

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Royal-Challengers-Bangalore

After winning two out of their first two matches, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) would look to make it three out of three when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their next encounter at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday afternoon.

Spin will be a crucial weapon again for RCB as KKR showed their inability to cope with spin in their previous match against Mumbai Indians, giving away four wickets to leg-spinner Rahul Chahar.

RCB left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed played a crucial role on a sticky pitch in the match against SunRisers Hyderabad as he made the ball turn and forced the SRH batsmen to throw away their wickets.

With KKR also possessing a very strong spin bowling line-up, the performance of spinners from the two sides could very well decide the course of Sunday’s first match.

This will also be the first match of this season to be played in the afternoon and have a 3.30 p.m. start. Naturally, the dew factor will not come into play.

On the contrary, the latter part of the match could see the ball swing as the temperature dips.

RCB skipper Virat Kohli, who has got identical scores of 33 (29 balls) in the first two matches, will look to get his first half-century of the season.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see KKR captain Eoin Morgan, who employed his spinners to bowl five of the first six overs against MI, use spin early against the opening duo of Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal, both of whom relish the ball coming onto the bat.

Squads:
KKR: Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert (wicketkeeper), Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Eoin Morgan (captain), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Varun CV, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer, Pawan Negi.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), Devdutt Padikkal, Finn Allen (wicket-keeper), AB de Villiers (wicket-keeper), Pavan Deshpande, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Daniel Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, K.S. Bharat.

Match starts at 3.30 p.m.

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BCCI assured of visas to Pak team, media for T20 World Cup

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The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has got the approval for visas for the Pakistan cricket team as well as the media for the upcoming T20 World Cup that will be held in India in October-December, it was announced at BCCI’s Apex Council meeting on Friday.

However, this wouldn’t yet break the deadlock between the Indian and Pakistan cricket boards.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani had earlier said that they are looking for visas for not just the players and the media but also for their fans. A failure on that count from the Indian board will push them into asking the International Cricket Council (ICC) to host the tournament in UAE.

The Apex Council, however, was apprised that the Union home ministry will decide on giving visas to Pakistan fans, it has been learnt.

There had been very little doubt earlier on Pakistan cricket team getting visa. The BCCI had given enough indications. The bone of contention, however, had been visas to media and fans which the Pakistan board had demanded.

While there has been a thaw in political relations between the two countries in recent times which has led to some Pakistan sportspersons arriving in India and competing, letting in Pakistan fans for the T20 World Cup could also depend on the Covid-19 situation in the country at the time.

Sports events haven’t seen overseas spectators since the pandemic began and recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo Olympic Games organisation committee have decided on not allowing overseas spectators to the Olympic Games which begin on July 23 this year.

With rising Covid-19 cases in India, it is unlikely a decision on fans will be taken any time soon by the ministry.

As many as 14 items were discussed in the Apex Council meeting.

One of the items (Item No. 13) concerned inclusion of cricket in Los Angeles Olympic Games.

The Board hasn’t yet reached a decision on it yet, though in principle they have agreed to sending a team to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Further discussions will be done with the Indian Olympic Association.

Among other issues discussed was the status of the new National Cricket Academy premises (Item No. 6 on the agenda), the 2021-22 domestic cricket season (Item No. 9) and the organisation of T20 leagues tournaments by Tamil Nadu, Mumbai, Karnataka and Saurashtra.

While it has been learnt that the council was told the 2021-22 domestic cricket tournaments will happen as they have happened in the past on schedule, a final decision will be made later going by the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the country.

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I had tears when Zak sir called my name: MI’s Yudhvir Charak

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Mumbai Indians pace bowler Yudhvir Singh Charak says he had tears flowing down his cheeks the moment bowling head coach Zaheer Khan “raised the paddle” after his name was called during the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction on February 18 this year.

“I knew that if my name came up, it would be among the last names. If not, I was okay with it. We all were sitting; me, my family, our eyes fixed on the television. Then, when my name came up and when Zak sir (Zaheer Khan) raised the paddle, tears started flowing down my cheeks,” recalled Charak in a video posted by Mumbai Indians on Twitter.

“I can’t express how unbelievable that feeling was. It (MI selection) was a really big deal for me and for my state (Jammu and Kashmir). They (J&K team-mates) had very high hopes that I will play a match and do well take our state to new heights,” said the right-arm bowler, who was with the team as a support bowler in UAE.

Charak, who has represented Hyderabad in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and competed in several age-group tournaments, was picked at a base price of Rs 20 lakh.

MI team manager Rahul Sanghvi said that, “We are always good at picking uncapped players with talent, which we have done this year as well by choosing Yudhvir and Arjun (Tendulkar). Both were part of our support players group in the IPL in UAE. The coaches were satisfied that these guys will fulfil the role we were looking at and we picked them.”

Zaheer said, “So, we have Yudhvir, who we are looking forward to. This environment has been benefiting everyone who has been part of it. We encourage them to enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the moment and learn as they go along.”

For Charak, it is more about learning from a team that has won five IPL titles than anything else. “This is the start of my careerat a high level. I’ll get to learn a lot from the senior players. They would have selected me with some role in mind. So, I want to do the best for my team. And learn as best as I can. They are the five-time IPL champions.”

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