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Wednesday,26-January-2022

International

IND v NZ, First Test: Ravindra, Patel’s stubborn resistance forces thrilling draw

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 Rachin Ravindra anod Ajaz Patel put up 52 balls of stubborn resistance to help New Zealand force a thrilling draw against India in the first Test of the two-match series at the Green Park Stadium here on Monday. From 155/9, Patel did a fine job of hanging in at the crease but it was the debutant Ravindra, who faced 91 balls and gave a great account of his temperament and composure to deny India a win.

After going wicketless in the opening session of day five, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, and Axar Patel picked eight wickets in the next two sessions. But a stonewalling effort from Ravindra and Patel defied the Indian bowling attack, which was in a race against time as lights began to fade in the final half-hour of the day.

Axar Patel struck on the seventh ball of the final session, trapping Henry Nicholls lbw with the one turning in a little and went past the outer edge to hit the back pad. Ravindra Jadeja got some help from the pitch, getting one to grip and turn past Kane Willia’son’s bat, pretty similar to the jaffa from Umesh Yadav which squared up Williamson in the second session. In his next over, Jadeja trapped Williamson plumb lbw on the backfoot with a ball that came in and kept low.

Tom Blundell and Rachin Ravindra batted 54 balls together to try and save the match. Captain Ajinkya Rahane brought Ravichandran Ashwin in and immediately created a chance. But Blundell was saved by a sharp turn on an lbw appeal. India took the review but lost it as the ball was going down the leg-side.

In his next over, Ashwin claimed ‘lundell’s wicket in a very unusual fashion. Blundell came out to defend a turning delivery. But the ball hit the rough and rolled over to disturb the bails. Kyle Jamieson had some luck on his side as Cheteshwar Pujara was late to react to his left an’ couldn’t take the catch off Ashwin. But Jadeja ensured that the let-off on the second new ‘all won’t be costly as Jamieson was trapped lbw by one spinning past the outer edge to hit the back pad.

Jadeja scalped his fourth wicket of the innings by beating the outer edge of Tim Southee’s bat and trapping him lbw in front of off-stump. Southee took the review ‘ut couldn’t change the decision. Ravindra and Patel were sturdy in defence as India were in a race against time to wrap the innings.

Ashwin ‘truck Patel’s pad but was given not out as the ball pitched outside leg. India took the review but were unable to change the decision, thereby losing all reviews. Ravindra and Patel survived 52 balls for just 10 runs as New Zealand managed to eke out an escape by the barest of margins.

Earlier, India picked up three crucial wickets, including one each on the first and last ball of the second session, to make a comeback in the match. After not getting a wicket in the first session, India got one on the very first ball post-lunch as William Somerville tried to pull a short ball from Umesh Yadav, but it flew to Shubman Gill running in from fine-leg and completing a superb forward diving catch.

Yadav continued to trouble Latham and Kane Williamson, getting a lot of deliveries to keep low and targeted towards the stumps. But the duo continued to put up a defiant show while hitting the occasional boundary. Latham brought up his second half-century of the match with three runs through mid-wicket.

But four overs later, Latham, in a bid to punch through the off-side, chopped on to his stumps off Ashwin. The dismissal also meant that Ashwin went past Harbhajan Singh’s 417 wickets to become the third-highest wicket-taker for India (13th overall) in Test cricket.

Ross Taylor was nearly stumped on zero off Ashwin as there was no conclusive evidence to rule him out. His anxious stay at the crease ended on the stroke of tea as Jadeja trapped him plumb in front of the wicket.

Resuming from 4/1, Latham and William Somerville put up a show of stubborn resistance to keep India at bay in a wicketless first session. The duo showed great application in scoring 75 runs in 31 overs. They were rigid in defence, though Ashwin troubled them often while plucking boundaries against the pace of Yadav.

Latham was the first to take a boundary off Yadav, glancing through fine leg while Somerville struck a straight drive. Somerville then crunched delightful back-foot drives on consecutive deliveries off Yadav through off-side and was lucky in getting a boundary off the outer edge off Ishant Sharma.

India seemed to be a bit frustrated over not getting their first wicket of the day. Such was the desperation to get a wicket that they took a review for a Latham lbw despite the impact outside the off-stump, thereby wasting a review as New Zealand survived the rest of the session unscathed and eventually, the day.

Brief Scores: India 345 (Shreyas Iyer 105, Tim Southee 5/69) and 234/7d in 81 overs (Shreyas Iyer 65, Kyle Jamieson 3/40) drew with New Zealand 296 in 142.3 overs (Tom Latham 95, Axar Patel 5/62) and 165/9 in 98 overs (Tom Latham 52, William Somerville 36, Ravindra Jadeja 4/40, Ravichandran Ashwin 3/35).

International

Australia to tour Pakistan with a full-strength squad, says George Bailey

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Chief selector George Bailey on Tuesday confirmed that no Australian player has asked to be left out of the squad that is set to embark on their first tour of Pakistan since 1999.

Bailey added that the selection will be solely based on managing their workload.

“I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour, so once that gets the formal tick of approval then we’ll announce the squad post that, but we’re reasonably well down the track,” Bailey was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia’s website.

“The two (security) briefings that I’ve sat in on, the security sounds very, very robust.”

The tour is set to start on March 3. It will consist of three Test matches to be played in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore and will be followed by a three-match ODI series from March 29 to April 2. A lone T20I will be played on April 5.

The last time Pakistan had an ICC event on its soil was when it co-hosted the 1996 World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka. The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 ensured Test cricket remained out of bounds until 2019.

In 2020, before the T20 World Cup, New Zealand and England had pulled out of the tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.

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Hockey: France join Men’s Pro League, to start campaign against India on Feb 8

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Canada have withdrawn from the Men’s FIH Pro League due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has called up France to take place in the third edition of the Series. France will take on India in their opening match on February 8.

“After Canada eventually pulled out due to Covid-related issues, FIH had contacted the next best teams, according to the FIH World Rankings, to invite one of them to replace Canada. France have accepted the invitation and, as the highest-ranked team having done so, will join the global home-and-away league for this season,” the FIH informed in a release on Tuesday.

As Canada, along with South Africa had been included in the men’s FIH Pro League in place of Australia and New Zealand, who had pulled out last year citing Covid-19 related travel restrictions by their respective countries. As Canada and South Africa were included only for the ongoing third edition of the Pro League, France too will participate in the current edition and will be left out once Australia and New Zealand return to the field for the fourth edition in 2023.

“As communicated earlier, France’s participation in the FIH Hockey Pro League is planned for this third edition only. Indeed, Australia and New Zealand, who are not playing the current season due to Covid-related international travel constraints, are expected to come back for the fourth edition (2022-2023),” the FIH release said.

French, who will host the next Olympics in Paris in 2024, will play their first match on February 8 against India, in Potchefstroom, South Africa, and meet the Netherlands on February 9.

France have qualified for the next Men’s World Cup, which will be played in January 2023 in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela. The French Men’s Junior team recently claimed the bronze medal in the Men’s Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar, with France captain Timothée Clément crowned Best Player of the Tournament.

“It is great news that France are joining the FIH Hockey Pro League for the current season. As hosts of the next Olympic Games, being part of such a top-flight competition involving the best teams in the world can only be a positive move for the French team as well as for the growth of hockey in the country,” FIH CEO Thierry Weil was quoted as saying in the statement.

The first FIH Hockey Pro League matches of the year will involve the women’s teams of China and India. They will take place on January 31 and February 1 in Muscat, Oman, where both teams are currently playing the women’s Asia Cup 2022.

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Sune Luus to lead South Africa in West Indies ODIs

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All-rounder Sune Luus will lead the 18-member South Africa women’s squad against West Indies in a five-match ODI series starting January 28, the Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed on Tuesday.

The 26-year old Luus will lead a side that is missing senior players — regular captain Dane Van Niekerk (ankle injury) as well as Lizelle Lee (Covid). Chloe Tryon will serve as Luus’ deputy in the series.

“Sune has really managed the captaincy quite well in the absence of our leaders, Dane and Chloe, and we are quite excited to be giving her the role again and in our conversations with her, she really rolled out the pathway for us, getting through the West Indies tour and for the World Cup,” said Clinton du Preez, Convenor of Selectors.

“We are quite happy to have her back in that role and I am sure the leadership and the senior players in the team will give her massive support. Chloe as the vice-captain is a great combination between the two individuals and personalities and we think it will be a balanced approach for our successes,” he added.

The squad also includes key players such as Shabnim Ismail, Mignon du Preez as well as Laura Wolvaardt, who was the second-highest run-scorer (161) when the two teams last faced each other.

Meanwhile, off-spinner Raisibe Ntozakhe is among those picked in the squad. The 25-year-old hasn’t been featured for South Africa since 2018 when she was suspended from bowling in international games owing to her then illegal action. She has recently been cleared to bowl.

“It’s greatly important for us to fill the vacancy of Dane van Niekerk, and therefore we looked at a few options. It is also quite exciting to have Raisibe Ntozakhe back in the squad and for her to be playing international cricket again, it will be a great opportunity for her to revive her career,” du Preez said.

“We are quite comfortable with the squad we have selected. It’s a balanced squad and we have gone for an extended squad to give more players an opportunity to ensure that we complement the skill sets within the team.

“With the conditions up in Johannesburg, it will suit us to play against the West Indies. They are normally used to the slow, turning wickets and for now, it is a great opportunity to strike with our bowlers and to also have a balanced approach to those results,” he added.

The five-match ODI series in Johannesburg serves as a World Cup preparation for the South Africa side looking to better their semi-final show from five years ago. The two sides met in a five-match series in the Caribbean last August, a series South Africa clinched by a dominant 4-1 margin.

Squad: Sune Luus (c), Chloe Tryon (vc), Andrie Steyn, Anneke Bosch, Ayabonga Khaka, Lara Goodall , Laura Wolvaardt, Marizanne Kapp, Masabata Klaas, Mignon du Preez, Nadine de Klerk, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Tazmin Brits, Trisha Chetty, Tumi Sekhukhune

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