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Wednesday,01-December-2021

National

I’m sure the pitch for 2nd Test will turn from Day One: Ajinkya Rahane

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India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Friday said that the MA Chidambaram Stadium wicket for the second Test against England is a completely different from the one used for the first Test and will turn from Day One.

“It (pitch) will be completely different. I am sure it will turn from day number one but again as I said before the first Test match, we will have to wait and see how it plays in the first session and then take it from there. We have to forget what happened in the first Test match and focus on this and play good cricket. We know these conditions very well. We have to put our best foot forward tomorrow and play as a team,” said Rahane while speaking to the media on the eve of the second Test.

While the first Test — which England won by 227 runs — was played on a red soil pitch, the second Test will be played on a pitch which is a mixture of black and red soil. The surface has a topping of black soil. It has also not been watered because the gap between the first two Tests was just three days and with black soil retaining more water, the pitch wouldn’t have dried.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) had packed off its curator after the first Test following complaints from Indian cricketers like Ishant Sharma that it was flat on the first two days, even though there was huge praise for the pitch that lasted five days.

The pitch for the second Test has been prepared under the supervision of the Indian team management and it is no surprise that Rahane is saying that it would turn from Day One.

“Wickets are different, we need to adjust. We have played plenty of cricket in Chennai. We are (playing) back-to-back Tests at one venue for the first time,” said Rahane upon being asked about the challenge of playing back-to-back Test matches at the same venue.

He, however, refused to confirm the playing XI or even the 12.

“Everyone is in the mix. Good thing is that (left-arm spinner) Axar (Patel) is fit. I am not going to tell you who will play tomorrow but Axar is fit to play. All our spinners are very good. Given a chance they will do well,” he added.

Rahane also defended skipper Virat Kohli, saying that he remains the only captain of the team.

“Sometimes it happens, there is no such energy. But it doesn’t mean that change in captaincy will happen. Sometimes body language can be down especially (the way it was panning out) in the first two days,” said Rahane.

He also spoke on Indians dropping too many catches and bowling no-balls in the first Test, saying that the team members are working hard on it.

“There will be incidents where catches are dropped… we need to practice hard, especially close-in catching which is very important in India. Sometimes these things happen. No one drops intentionally. Guys are working hard. They all are disappointed what happened in the last game about the no-balls, they are working hard (to ensure the mistakes aren’t repeated).”

National

Eighth season of Pro Kabaddi League to begin from December 22 in Bengaluru

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The organisers of the Pro Kabaddi League announced on Wednesday that the eighth edition of the league will be held here from December 22. It also said that the entire season will be conducted without the presence of spectators for the matches.

Mashal Sports, the organisers of the league, have scheduled triple headers on the first four days. The season will kick-start with U Mumba facing Bengaluru Bulls. The second match will be the league’s ‘Southern Derby’ as Telugu Titans lock horns with Tamil Thalaivas while UP Yoddha will be squaring off against the defending champions Bengal Warriors in the last match of the opening day.

The triple-headers will be only-Saturday affairs throughout the whole duration of the league, starting at 7:30pm, 8:30pm and 9:30pm respectively. The schedule of the first half of season 8 has come while the organisers say that the second half of the league’s schedule will come in mid-January next year.

Keeping the health and safety of players in mind amid COVID times, the organisers have converted the entire venue at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Centre into an integrated and secure bio-bubble.

All 12 teams will be staying and playing at the same venue in order to follow and adhering to the safety protocols set by the authorities.

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Laxman finally agrees to head NCA: Sources

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VVS-Laxman

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has managed to convince former cricketer VVS Laxman to head the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, sources said.

After Rahul Dravid took over the post of Indian team’s head coach, there were reports that Laxman might be appointed as a new head of NCA.

However, later it was said that the former batter “is uninterested”. But now he is ready to take the charge after the BCCI officials held a meeting with him in Dubai.

“There were some issues and it has been sorted out. The board wanted him to take the reponsibility and he is the right man to come in place of Dravid,” sources said.

It is also learnt that Laxman has also agreed to leave the lucrative commentary career for the NCA.

“Laxman is currently mentor of IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad, apart from being a commentator and cricket analyst. And he will leave it all for NCA now.”

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Everyone had written us off; we are here to rectify that: Finch

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Australian captain Aaron Finch has conceded that not winning the ICC T20 World Cup title so far has been a sore point with the Kangaroos and the final against New Zealand later on Sunday is the “best opportunity to rectify that”.

The closest Australia came to winning the T20 World Cup was during the 2010 edition held in the West Indies, where they lost to England by seven wickets.

“It’s one that’s eluded us in the past, and the fact that we are here in the final gives us the best opportunity to rectify that. Yeah, I think it will be a great game against New Zealand. They are a great side and they have been in all the finals over the last six years. Looking forward to it,” said Finch ahead of the title clash.

Finch added that despite critics writing his team off, the way the players had gone about their business was heartening.

“Everyone had written us off but we had a lot of confidence within. We’re really confident the way that we were preparing, the way that our strategy was coming together. Yeah, I think it hasn’t defied expectation. I think we came here with a really clear plan to win the tournament, and we still feel as though we’ve got the squad to do that.

“Well, I think the spirit among the team… and that’s been really impressive the way we’ve gone about our business. Everyone has prepared really well. Everyone has had a really defining match or match-defining performance at some point. The guys are really up and about for the final,” said Finch.

Finch added that batting stalwart Steve Smith’s form wasn’t a concern despite the fact that the former skipper has been unimpressive so far in the tournament, and the team management has drawn flak for persisting with him.

“No, not concerned one bit about his (Smith) form. He’s a world-class player and he’s someone in big games has showed how valuable he is. He’s been hitting the ball as well as I’ve seen for a long time, so no, no concerns there whatsoever.”

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