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India drawn in an interesting pool for 2023 Hockey World Cup, feels Sreejesh

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Veteran India hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels his side has been drawn in an “interesting pool” for the FIH Odisha World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, scheduled to be played from January 13-29, with the likes of England and Wales adding to the excitement.

The Indian team has been drawn in Pool D with England, Spain and Wales in the showpiece event.

“It is an interesting pool. England, Spain and Wales all three are really good teams. Having played England and Wales at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games recently, I feel it will be a tough competition. But, we don’t need to think about it right now. At present, it’s all about us. We are going step-by-step and working on our game at the national camp. We are very excited and looking forward to playing the World Cup at home for the second consecutive time,” said 34-year-old Sreejesh, who played a big role in India returning from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a bronze medal after four decades.

About the team’s prospects in the Pro League 2022-23 matches, Sreejesh said the matches in Odisha will be like a mock test for the 2023 World Cup.

“The Pro League is the best platform for us because we get to play against some of the top teams. The upcoming matches at home will be like a mock test for us, it will help us for the real challenge which we will face in January 2023. It will also help us in providing young players the experience of playing high-level hockey. So, it’s a great opportunity for us as it will sort of help us set the tempo for the World Cup,” said Sreejesh a veteran of 266 international matches.

Sreejesh, who has been nominated for the FIH Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year Award 2021-22, credited team effort for his nomination for the award which he won last year.

“It is an honour for me to be nominated for the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year award category. Even though I have been nominated as an individual, it wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates, who have been giving their best each and every day for the team. I am privileged to have such amazing teammates and coaching staff which has helped me bring out the best of my game and helped me to take it to another level.”

The experienced goalkeeper added, “Every time I get nominated for the awards, I feel I am raising the bar for myself and for the youngsters who aspire to become goalkeepers. If you want to reach this level, you have to keep working hard and strive to be better every day.”

Apart from Sreejesh, Harmanpreet Singh (FIH Player of the Year Men), Savita (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year Women), Sanjay (FIH Rising Star of the Year Men), Mumtaz Khan (FIH Rising Star of the Year Women), Graham Reid (FIH Men’s Team Coach of the Year Men) and Janneke Schopman (FIH Women’s Team Coach of the Year Women) have also been nominated for FIH Hockey Star Awards 2021-22.

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Mohammad Rizwan slams unbeaten 78, leads Pakistan to 21-run win over Bangladesh

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Wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan scored an unbeaten 78 and carried his bat throughout the innings as Pakistan kick-started their campaign in the tri-series in New Zealand with a 21-run win over Bangladesh at the Hagley Oval on Friday.

After Rizwan’s belligerent knock laced with seven fours and two sixes took Pakistan to 167/5, pacer Mohammad Wasim Jnr and left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz took three and two wickets respectively to restrict Bangladesh to 146/8 in 20 overs.

Pushed into batting first, Rizwan and captain Babar Azam (22 off 25 balls) added 52 runs for the first wicket in 7.1 overs. The ever-consistent opener, who hit his sixth half-century in last eight T20I innings, then added 42 more runs with Shan Masood, who made 31 off 22 deliveries.

Shan Masood (31 off 22) was Pakistan’s other key contributor, as Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed and Asif Ali couldn’t contribute much to reduce the tension around Pakistan’s fragile middle order. Despite this, Pakistan managed to score 51 runs off the last four overs to post a competitive total against Bangladesh, playing without talismanic all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.

In defence of their total, Pakistan pacers were too hot to handle for the Bangladesh openers in the first six overs. Wasim struck in the fifth over as he dismissed Mehidy Hasan Miraz for 10. In the next over, Sabbir Rahman fell for 14 after a simple caught and bowled dismissal off Haris Rauf.

Litton Das made 35 off 26 balls before Nawaz dismissed him and Mosaddek Hossain on successive deliveries in the 13th over. Afif Hossain made 25 off 23 balls while Yasir Ali top-scored for Bangladesh with 42 not out off 21 balls, hitting five fours and two sixes.

After dismissing Taskin Ahmed and Nasum Ahmed on the first two balls of the penultimate over, Wasim finished with impressive figures of 3/24 while Nawaz returned with figures of 2/25 in a collective bowling performance for Pakistan where all bowlers kept their economy rate below 10 despite a 20-run final over.

Pakistan will be next seen in action when they take on hosts New Zealand tomorrow in the second match of the tri-series.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 167/5 in 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 78 not out, Shan Masood 31; Taskin Ahmed 2-25) beat Bangladesh 146/8 in 20 overs (Yasir Ali 42 not out, Litton Das 35; Mohammad Wasim Jnr 3-24, Mohammad Nawaz 2-25) by 21 runs.

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Matthews’ 56 goes in vain as Green takes New Zealand to 4-1 series victory over West Indies

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West Indies captain Hayley Matthews’ 56 went in vain as Maddy Green hit an unbeaten 32 to take New Zealand to a five-wicket victory in the final T20I at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and clinch the five-match series 4-1.

After Fran Jonas (2/8), Eden Carson (2/17) and Suzie Bates (3/10) restricted West Indies to 101/8 in 20 overs, Maddy led the charge for New Zealand in chasing the score on the last ball of the innings and end the tour on a high by bagging the Player of the Match award.

Electing to field first, New Zealand struck early, with Fran removing opener Aaliyah Alleyne for six in the fifth over of the innings. From there on, the hosts were unable to get going as barring Hayley, who got her sixth T20I fifty, none of the batters touched the double-digit mark.

It meant that Hayley had to do the bulk of scoring, hitting three fours and four sixes to take the team past 100. However, with no support from the other end, the team could make just 101.

While Fran would take out Hayley in the 17th over, Eden took out Rashada Williams and Chedean Nation. Suzie was the pick of the bowlers for New Zealand, dismissing Natasha McLean, Shabika Gajnabi and Afy Fletcher. Bates returned figures of 3 for 10 from her three overs.

In the chase, New Zealand lost Suzie (13) and Brooke Halliday (1) inside first eight overs. But Sophie Devine (23) and Amelia Kerr (25) steadied the ship for New Zealand. After the duo fell, Maddy took the charge of taking the team home with an unbeaten 32 off 29 balls, hitting two fours and scored the winning run as well on the final ball of the chase.

For West Indies, Afy, Shabika and Sheneta Grimmond scalped a wicket apiece. The win also marked the successful culmination of New Zealand’s tour of West Indies, where the visitors had won ODI series 2-1 and took T20I series as well.

Brief scores: West Indies 101/8 in 20 overs (Hayley Matthews 56; Suzie Bates 3/10, Fran Jonas 2/8) lost to New Zealand 102/5 in 20 overs (Maddy Green 32, Amelia Kerr 25; Shabika Gajnabi 1/8, Afy Fletcher 1/12) by five wickets.

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South Africa continue to languish at 11th spot in Super League despite 9-run win vs India

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South Africa, despite defeating Indian in the opening One-day International here on Thursday, are languishing at 11th position in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League Standings — a position which will not earn them automatic qualification in next year’s 50-over World Cup in India.

In fact, even if they make a clean sweep of the three-match series here and also win the ODIs against England at home and the two games remaining from their suspended home series against the Netherlands, it is unlikely they will be able to automatically qualify for the showpiece event.

India are currently sixth in the Super League standings. Only Zimbabwe (12th) and Netherlands (13th) are below South Africa in the standings.

The Proteas, before the start of the ongoing series against India, were languishing at 11th place with just four wins in 13 matches. A total of 13 teams are ranked in the Cricket World Cup Super League Standings — 12 Full Member nations, along with the Netherlands — and the bottom-five teams, after the two-year Super League qualification period, will play a qualifying tournament, which will also feature the best teams from the lower rungs of competition.

When the Proteas forfeited the ODI series against Australia in January next year, reportedly due to their much-hyped franchise-based inaugural SA20 tournament at home, they had to give away all 30 ODI World Cup Super League points that were on offer, according to ICC.

Since then, they have levelled the series against England in England (1-1), but it hasn’t made their position in the standings any better.

Put in to bat first in Lucknow in a 40-overs game, South Africa were reduced to 71/3 with India striking two quick blows. The wicket of Quinton de Kock further dented the visitors, but the tables turned when Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller came thogether at the crease.

The two put on an unbeaten 139-run stand in 17.4 overs to take South Africa to 249 in 40 overs. Klaasen remained unbeaten on 74 off 65 balls while Miller, carrying forward his fine recent form, finished on a 63-ball 75 not out.

South Africa pushed their advantage further with the new ball as Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell sent back the India openers inside the first six overs. Keshav Maharaj then spun a web over India batters with the pitch taking turn and India were reduced to 51/4.

Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson resurrected the innings with a half-century stand, but Iyer was dismissed in the 27th over to give South Africa the upper hand. Despite late fireworks from the Samson-Thakur pair, India finished short and South Africa earned some much-needed Super League points.

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