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Saturday,26-September-2020

International

I want to be like Babar bhai: 8-year-old fan Samiya

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Pakistan's-Babar-Azam

The upcoming Pakistan men’s Test and T20I series against England will be played under stringent Covid-19 protocols. As such, the fans, an integral part of the sport, will not be able to witness their stars in action from the stands.

In a bit to lessen the distance between players and fans, the Pakistan Cricket Board organised a video-conference call between champion batsman Babar Azam, who is in England with the Pakistan men’s national cricket team, and his eight-year-old fan in Lahore, Samiya Afsar.

Samiya rose to prominence earlier this year when a video of her batting practice went viral on the social media in which she was seen playing conventional cricket shots while meeting the ball on merit.

Such was the impression of her strokes that batting legend Kumar Sangakkara appreciated them and tweeted: “Can’t get over how good this little player is. Much better technique than mine already. So encouraging to see such talent in cricket.”

During his interaction with the young fan, Babar, the Pakistan men’s limited-overs captain, praised his young fan’s stroke play and shared tips on how to become a better batter.

Samiya’s skills are not only limited to cricket. Before meeting Babar online, she made a sketch of the batting superstar which she plans to gift him when the team returns.

Sharing her delight on e-meeting Babar, Samiya said: “I am Babar Azam’s biggest fan and I want to be like him. Like a superhero he looks after our country and takes our team out of troubles. One day, I will also do for our women’s team what he does for the men’s.

“Babar bhai gave me some invaluable batting tips which I will practice whenever I can get back to nets.”

Babar Azam said: “Fans are the most integral part of the game and they keep us motivated through thick and thin. It gives us extra motivation to produce match winning performances when we know that such beautiful people are behind us and praying for our success.

“It was a great delight to meet Samiya. She is a superstar. I was in awe when I first saw her batting video. The way she was timing the ball was remarkable. She has all the potential to be a great batter and I look forward to catching up with her when the Covid-19 situation improves.

“Being involved in sports from a young age helps in understanding life and disciplining yourself. At this stage, I want to ask all of my young fans to make sure they do some form of physical training while concentrating on their studies.”

International

Dean Jones was my friend for 35 years, will miss him: Kapil Dev

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Kapil Dev-Dean Jones

No foreign cricketer has visited India as many times as former Australian batting mainstay Dean Jones – more than 100 times – such was his connection with this country, said legendary Kapil Dev, while recalling his “35-year long association” with one of his closest friends who passed away on Thursday.

Jones, 59, collapsed and died following a cardiac arrest in a Mumbai hotel where he was staying during an assignment with the official broadcaster of the Indian Premier League (IPL). He was his usual jovial self on Thursday morning, but by the afternoon, he was gone. His fellow Australian Brett Lee tried to revive him, but could not.

“Deano was quite a dear friend of mine and I was shocked to hear the news of his passing away. I feel quite sad and sorry for his family. You are going to miss him, but his family is going to suffer the most. I knew him for about 35 years,” Kapil, who first played against Jones during the 1985 World Championship of Cricket in Australia, told IANS.

“He was a great cricketer and one of the best athletes. He was a master at running between the wickets. He was also a great commentator and had a wonderful sense of humour,” said the 1983 World Cup-winning captain.

Kapil also pointed out that because of his close connection with Jones individually and also because of the Aussie’s professional work in India, he visited this country many times.

“No other foreign cricketer has perhaps travelled to India as many times as Deano. He would have visited India more than 100 times. But now he is gone; he was not even 60 years old. Even Malcolm Marshall passed away quite young [aged 41 years 200 days in November 1999],” he rued.

Kapil bowled to Jones in 20 ODI innings and dismissed him four times – twice bowled and as many times had him caught – and in 15 Test innings, the Indian ‘Sultan of Swing’ got him out twice.

One more reason for Jones to love India was that he scored his first Test century – it was actually a fabulous double century in the testing conditions of Madras – in India in September 1986. It was only his third Test and fifth innings. After his eight-and-a-half hours innings in hot and humid conditions, during which he got dehydrated and vomited, he was taken to a hospital and was put on a saline drip. The Test at the Chepauk ended in a tie, only the second such result till date.

“A day that changed my life forever,” Jones tweeted on September 19, on the 34th anniversary of the tied Test. Another tweet read: “This Test was the renaissance for Australian cricket. It was our Mt Everest moment. Under AB [Allan Border] we started to believe that we can compete against the best. Great friendships started with the Indians. Our journey had just begun!”

After his retirement, Jones started working with Indian TV channels and broadcasters. Somewhere along the line, he was nicknamed ‘Professor Deano’ and he named his Twitter handle @ProfDeano.

Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar recalled once playing alongside Jones. “He was a very nice and jovial person. I was shocked when I heard this news. Of course, we played against each other, representing India and Australia. We also played together once. It was one of the three matches played before the main five-day game between the Marylebone Cricket Club and a Rest of the World XI at Lord’s, London. In that World XI-Gloucestershire game in Bristol, Deano and I had a 200-odd-run partnership. I scored 171 and he scored 70-odd in that match,” Vengsarkar told IANS.

Jones was working for the official broadcaster of the IPL and was staying in Mumbai.

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Was a pretty rusty day: KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik

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Dinesh-Karthik

After Kolkata Knight Riders lost their opening IPL encounter against Mumbai Indians by 49 runs here on Wednesday, skipper Dinesh Karthik said that rustiness was the reason behind the defeat.

“I think we had areas to do well with bat and ball. I think it was a pretty rusty day to be honest, I don’t want to get too analytical about it but it’s ok the boys realise where they could have done better,” said Karthik on Star Sports at the end of the match.

The match was played in hot and humid conditions in Abu Dhabi which was a change for a number of key foreign players in the KKR squad like Andre Russell, Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan.

“Couple of guys — (Pat) Cummins and (Eoin) Morgan — just finished their quarantine today. It is hard — playing in the heat and getting used to the conditions. Don’t want to be too analytical, the boys put in a good effort. I haven’t had the conversation about that (regarding tweaking the top order) with Baz (coach Brendon McCullum), will let you know by the next game,” said Karthik.

KKR next face Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday.

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It was all about being ruthless: MI skipper Rohit Sharma

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Rohit Sharma, on Wednesday, returned to his usual, elegant self with a masterful innings to lead Mumbai Indians to a 49-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Rohit scored 80 off 54 as MI scored 195/5. In reply, KKR managed to score 146/9.

Interestingly, this marked MI’s first ever victory in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), having lost all of their matches in 2014 when a part of the group stage was played in the UAE.

“It was only two players from the 2014 squad. It was all about how we executed our plans today, we never let it go. We were in good position throughout the game but it was all about being ruthless, getting as many (runs) as possible. We knew the wicket was good and dew was coming down,” said Rohit in the post-match presentation ceremony in which he was declared Player of the Match.

As the KKR bowlers fumbled with their line and length and gave Rohit short deliveries, the MI captain replied with his trade mark pull shots to deposit the ball over the boundary.

“I back myself to play (the pull shots), love playing it and practiced it quite a bit. Pretty glad it came out well, they were all good (laughs), can’t pick one. I haven’t played a lot of cricket in the last six months time and was looking to spend some time in the middle; it didn’t come out well in the first innings but glad to have done it tonight,” he said.

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