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Thursday,26-November-2020

National

In-form KXIP look to continue charge vs RR

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With five wins on the trot, a rejuvenated Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will look to further boost their playoff hopes when they face Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the 50th match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Friday.

While KXIP (12 points) have turned it around after going on a dismal run in the first half of the season, RR (10 points) have been wildly inconsistent in the latter half of the season and desperately need a win to be alive in the race for the playoffs season at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

KXIP captain KL Rahul (595 runs from 12 matches) has been leading the batting from the front and has received good support from his opening partner Mayank Agarwal, who missed last two games due to bruised knee.

Mandeep Singh has filled in for Agarwal in the last two games and scored an unbeaten 66 in his previous match in which KXIP beat Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets.

Meanwhile, in-form Chris Gayle (177 from 5 matches) has also been quite impressive. Nicholas Pooran and Glenn Maxwell have managed to provide stability in the middle order for KXIP in their recent matches.

Mohammed Shami (20 wickets in 12 matches) has been KXIP’s lynchpin in the bowling department while young Ravi Bishnoi (12 wickets in 12 matches) has also impressed. Arshdeep Singh, Chris Jordan and Murugan Ashwin have all stepped up when needed over the course of their side’s ongoing winning streak.

On the other hand, the Steve Smith-led Royals will be riding high on confidence after their stunning victory over Mumbai Indians (MI), one of the strong contenders of this year’s title.

RR’s biggest concern was the lackluster show of Ben Stokes (217 runs in six matches) and Sanju Samson (326 from 12 games). However, the duo dusted off their rustiness with a bang against MI. Stokes and Samson were unbeaten on 107 and 54 respectively as they put up a partnership of 152 for the third wicket.

Opener Robin Uthappa has struggled with the bat and has to find the rhythm back as early as possible. Captain Steve Smith, once again, will be in-charge of laying the foundation while Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia would have to come up with fireworks down the order.

Meanwhile, Tewatia also needs to click with the ball. RR’s bowling has been dependent solely on Jofra Archer (17 wickets from 12 games) who will once again try to pose some serious threat for the Punjab batters.

Kartik Tyagi, Ankit Rajpoot, and Shreyas Gopal would need to provide an able support to Archer with breakthroughs at regular intervals.

The last time the two teams met, the Royals registered a four-wicket win.

Squads:

Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (Captain), Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Mandeep Singh, James Neesham, Tajinder Singh, Chris Jordan, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sarfaraz Khan, Sheldon Cottrell, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Darshan Nalkande, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Murugan Ashwin, Jagadeesha Suchith, Krishnappa Gowtham, Hardus Viljoen and Simran Singh

Rajasthan Royals: Steven Smith (Captain), Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Andrew Tye, KartikTyagi, Ankit Rajpoot, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Mahipal Lomror, Oshane Thomas, Riyan Parag, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, Akash Singh, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Shashank Singh, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Robin Uthappa, Aniruddha Joshi, Jofra Archer

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Bengal T20 Challenge: Players, officials pay homage to Diego Maradona

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A one-minute silence was observed before the start of the Bengal T20 Challenge match between Tapan Memorial and Calcutta Customs on Thursday following the passing away of football icon Diego Maradona, who died at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack.

The players and officials lined up inside the iconic Eden Gardens and observed a minute silence to pay homage to the legendary footballer.

Maradona died on Wednesday evening due to cardio-respiratory arrest at his home in the Tigre district on the northern outskirts of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Following his demise, people in Kolkata turned nostalgic by sharing pictures of Maradona during his visit to the West Bengal capital in 2008 and 2017 to participate in a charity football match.

Maradona led Argentina to victory at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and was widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. He was particularly well-known for the two goals he scored against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final. One was later voted “Goal of the Century”, while the other is generally referred to as the “Hand of God”, a reference to the fact that the goal should have been disallowed for handball.

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Have been focussing more on my goal-scoring ability, says Shilanand Lakra

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Shilanand Lakra, a young forward in the Indian men’s hockey team, is determined to make the most of the ongoing period where he has having found the opportunity to focus on personal development since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

“Obviously having made my debut for the senior team in 2018 at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, I would have expected myself to play more than two tournaments in these two years, but that is how competitive the sport in our country has become. We’ve got some amazing players in the core probables’ group, and my aim has always been to earn a place in the team through more consistent performances in domestic tournaments and in our national camps,” said Lakra who is part of the ongoing national camp at the Sport Authority of India (SAI) facility here.

“The opportunity that the pandemic has provided me with is that I’ve had enough time to re-think and analyse what I’ve been doing these past two years, and what else I can do to progress in my career. I’ve also managed to speak to the coaching staff, and especially chief coach Graham Reid, who has helped me identify areas where I need to improve upon,” he added.

The leading scorer at the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2019, where he bagged five goals in six appearances, and helped the team win the silver medal, Shilanand believes goal-scoring is also something that he has focused on.

“I think in my 12 international caps, I haven’t been able to score, and as a forward, goal-scoring is something you should constantly be working on, so that is what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve got some amazing and experienced players around me in the camp here, and I’m trying to take in as much information as I can, and also train myself to get better in all areas including goal-scoring,” he said.

The 21-year-old idolises two of the best players his state has produced in Dilip Tirkey and current fellow core probable Birendra Lakra, and wants to emulate their longevity.

“I think both of them have been exceptional in their respective journeys, and I get so much inspiration when I speak to them, and read about how the struggles they had to endure in order to get to the biggest stage,” said Shilanand.

“It is a marvellous achievement for both to have played so many years at the top level, and that longevity is something I would like to have in my career as well, and give back to my nation and my state in some way,” he added.

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Bengal T20 Challenge: Mohammad Kaif steals win for Town against Kalighat

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An all-round show from Md. Kaif saw Town Club snatch a thrilling three-wicket win against Kalighat Club in the second match of the inaugural Bengal T20 Challenge.

After opting to bat, Kalighat suffered from some initial hiccups but they were able to post a competitive total of 148/7 on Tuesday evening in the match played at the Eden Gardens. However, Town found a way to beat their opponents, finishing at 152/7 with two balls to spare.

During their chase, Town had all but lost the match after losing seven wickets for 66 runs. However, that is when Azaz Ansari and Kaif came together and saw their team cross the line. Kaif remained unbeaten on 58 off just 24 balls, an innings studded with 6 fours and 4 sixes while Ansari supported him well with unbeaten 20 off 16 deliveries.

During Kalighat’s innings, Kaif had bowled with discipline and gave away 25 runs in his allotted 4 overs and taking a wicket. For Kalighat, captain Subham Chatterjee was the star batsman as he contributed with 63 off just 47 balls.

“I am very happy to win this match for my team. I believed in my ability and with every shot I became more confident. It felt very good to play cricket after long time,” Kaif said after the match.

Earlier, the trophy was unveiled at the Club House by West Bengal Sports Minister Aroop Biswas at a restrained ceremony marked by Covid-19 protocols.

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