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International

Had I adapted a bit earlier, things would have been different: Ankita Raina

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India’s top-ranked singles tennis player Ankita Raina conceded after her loss to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in the Billie Jean King Cup World Group play-off match that had she adapted to the Latvian world No. 52’s game a bit earlier, “things would probably have been a bit different”.

At the end of the day on Friday, India were 0-2 down in the five-match rubber with both Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi losing their singles matches to higher-ranked Latvian opponents, Ostapenko and Anastasija Sevastova, respectively.

“As the first set went through, I understood what she (Ostapenko) was doing and what I needed to change in my game. It was good that I could adapt to her game, but it probably would have been a bit different had I done that (adapted) a bit earlier,” said the world’s 174th-ranked singles player after losing 2-6, 7-5, 5-7 to the Latvian.

“When you play for your country, you fight for each point and that was seen in the match. I felt that I could have done a bit better in the first set and I did catch up (to win the second set), but Ostapenko has also played such matches before and played at the best level,” the Indian, who will take on Anastasija Sevastova in the reverse singles, said at the post-match press conference.

Ostapenko is the winner of the 2017 French Open title.

Raina, whose game had improved several notches this year, added, “I’ve said I belong to this level and my game has improved. I was very confident going into the match and I did feel that anything could happen. So, I was not thinking too much about the result. But it’s natural that when you are representing your country, you do have some nerves.”

On the reverse singles match, the Indian said, “It’s a new day, a new match. I will be ready and more than prepared and do my recovery that is needed to be ready for the match (against Sevastova).”

For Karman Kaur Thandi, who lost to Sevastova 4-6, 0-6, it was a “huge learning experience playing against a top-50 player for the first time”.

“Now, I need to work on my physical aspect going forward. Playing at this level after a couple of years, and also having not played against a top-50 player, the experience was pretty good, especially the intensity was there in the first set but I got broken twice which made the difference,” said Thandi.

“If you just look at the first set, I was pretty much there, and it could have gone either side. In the second set, the intensity dropped a little bit from my side, and she (Sevastova) also started playing a little bit more solid.”

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International

Pollard was stunned by 1st contract offered by MI: Dwayne Bravo

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Kieron-Pollard

Dwayne Bravo revealed the role he played in Mumbai Indians (MI) signing Kieron Pollard in 2010. Bravo played for MI between 2008 and 2010 and the team was searching for a replacement after the Trinidadian left for Chennai Super Kings.

“When Mumbai Indians needed a replacement for me, I gave them Kieron Pollard’s name. When they tried contacting him, he was playing for a club, so I recommended Dwayne Smith and he became my replacement,” Bravo told Cricbuzz.

“The following year, when it was the Champions League, I called Rahul (Sanghvi) and said, ‘Pollard, he’s here. Come and sign him now before the tournament starts.’ Rahul and Robin Singh left Mumbai and came to Hyderabad, I’ll never forget they came with a contract which at that time was 200,000 USD. I called Pollard, who came downstairs and met them both in the lobby. He saw the contract. Now for someone coming from Trinidad, as a 19-year-old, that was wow. He said, ‘Dwayne are you serious?” said Bravo.

Pollard has turned out to be one of the most important signings in MI’s history, playing an integral role in the team’s five Indian Premier League (IPL) victories. He has scored 3,191 runs for MI at a strike rate of 150.87 and taken 63 wickets as well.

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India retain top spot in ICC Test rankings

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India have retained the top spot in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) annual update of the Test rankings. India are on 121 rating points while second-placed New Zealand are on 120.

England overtook Australia to take third place with 109 rating points. Australia currently have 108. The West Indies, who beat Bangladesh 2-0 and drew 0-0 with Sri Lanka in series played this year, have moved from eighth to sixth with 84 points, their best position since 2013.

The ICC said that the latest update eliminates the results of 2017/18. It rates all matches played since May 2020 at 100 per cent and those of the previous two years at 50 per cent

“India’s 2-1 win over Australia and 3-1 win over England over the past year and New Zealand’s 2-0 series wins over the West Indies and Pakistan have helped them keep ahead of the pack,” said the ICC.

Pakistan have gained three points but remain in fifth position.

South Africa are in seventh position, equaling their lowest in Test ranking history, while Sri Lanka are next on the list. Bangladesh have lost five points but remain in ninth position while Zimbabwe have gained eight points but are still nine points behind Bangladesh.

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Warner took news of being axed as SRH captain with class: Brad Haddin

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SunRisers-Hyderabad

Batsman David Warner took the news of him being axed as SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) captain in the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) “with class”, said the team’s assistant coach Brad Haddin.

“He took it with class. It was a bit of a shock to everyone when the management decided to go in a different direction to try and spark something in the team. We weren’t playing at the standard we needed to but with Davey, the way he handled it, it was all class. He just got back on with the job,” Haddin said on Fox Cricket.

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson replaced Warner as captain. SRH ended up playing only one match under Williamson as the season got postponed after that due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Warner was dropped in that game.

Haddin, the former Australia wicketkeeper who was also Warner’s team mate in the Australian team, said that the latter just got on with his job and had no qualms in bringing out drinks for the players.

“I dare say he would come back in the contention in the next few games. He’s one of the best in the world in that form of the game. You had to look at the way he reacted when he came on to the bench. He was around everyone; he was running the drinks out. He was really focussed on the meetings so he handled it with a lot of class in a difficult situation,” Haddin said.

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