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Indian women’s hockey team loses third successive match at Olympics




The Indian women’s hockey team went down fighting 1-4 in their Pool A match against defending champions Great Britain, and with only two game remaining, — against Ireland and South Africa on July 30 and 31 respectively — qualification for the knockouts is getting tougher for the Rani Rampal-led side.

India now have to win both their games to qualify for the quarterfinals here.

India’s lone goal on Wednesday came from the stick of Sharmila Devi in the 23rd minute. India have lost all three Pool A matches so far. India were thrashed by the Netherlands 1-5, before they came up with a much-improved show against Germany, losing 0-2, and on Wednesday, they lost to Great Britain by another big margin.

World No. 5 Great Britain made a quick start and got the opening goal 75 seconds into the match. After an attacking move down the right flank, Great Britain managed to shoot at India’s goal, which was superbly saved by goalkeeper Savita. However, Great Britain midfielder Hannah Martin was on hand to capitalise on the deflected shot and scored the opening goal of the match.

Great Britain dominated the early proceedings, as India gradually grew into the game. India managed to earn two penalty corners late in the first quarter but drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur’s efforts were blocked. Great Britain ended the first quarter with 71 per cent ball possession and a 1-0 lead.

As the second quarter began, India looked to force a higher tempo and played more aggressive hockey from the outset. However, they suffered a setback in the 19th minute as Hannah scored her second goal to double Great Britain’s lead.

Though goalkeeper Savita made a valiant effort to save the initial shot from Sarah Jones, midfielder Hannah gathered the rebound and expertly manoeuvred the ball to score with a backhand stroke.

Despite the setback, India continued to play aggressive hockey and increasingly kept more possession of the ball. India got their reward in the 23rd minute when they were awarded a penalty corner. Young forward Sharmila Devi’s quick-fire deflection off Gurjit Kaur’s drag-flick ensured India their only goal.

The following minutes saw India play with more confidence and dominated the final seven minutes of the half. The first half ended with six circle penetrations from India, compared to Great Britain’s seven.

The third quarter began with India earning a flurry of penalty corners soon after the restart. Deep Grace Ekka was on drag-flicking duty this time, but India could not score from their three attempts. It was Great Britain’s turn to receive a penalty corner in the 32nd minute, who improvised from a fumble to get a shot on target, which was saved by Savita. Savita made three more brilliant saves from penalty corners to keep India in the game.

Great Britain scored a third goal in the 41st minute through experienced forward Lily Owsley to go 3-1 up.

India began the fourth quarter with attacking intent, lining up four forwards after the restart. They were almost rewarded in the 48th minute when captain Rani Rampal combined with forward Vandana Katariya to create a scoring opportunity.

Vandana’s backhand stroke drew an impressive save from goalkeeper Claire Hinch. With mounting pressure, India’s infringement while defending in their circle, gave away a penalty stroke that saw Great Britain extend their lead in the 57th minute.

Grace Balsdon converted the penalty stroke that saw Great Britain march to a 4 -1 victory.

In their fourth Pool A match, India will take on Ireland on July 30.


England cricketer Moeen Ali retires from Test cricket





 England cricket stalwart, all-rounder Moeen Ali, has decided to call time on his Test match career.

Ali, 34, who made his Test debut back in 2014 and went on to represent England in 64 Test matches, scored a total of 2,914 Test runs, with his highest being an unbeaten 155.

He took 195 Test wickets including 5 five-wicket hauls and scored five Test match centuries during his career.

Discussing his decision on Monday, Ali said, “I’m 34 now and I want to play for as long as I can and I just want to enjoy my cricket. Test cricket is amazing, when you’re having a good day it’s better than any other format by far, it’s more rewarding and you feel like you’ve really earned it.

“I will miss just walking out there with the lads, playing against best in the world with that feeling of nerves but also from a bowling point of view, knowing with my best ball I could get anyone out,” said Ali who is currently in the UAE playing for IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings.

“I’ve enjoyed Test cricket but that intensity can be too much sometimes and I feel like I’ve done enough of it and I’m happy and content with how I’ve done.”

Ali hopes that his Test career will inspire and open the door for other British Muslims to play for England. “It always takes somebody to inspire you or takes somebody to think if he can do it I can and I hope there are a few people out there who are thinking that. I know he wasn’t English but someone like Hashim Amla, when I first saw him, I thought if he can do it I can do it, it does take that little spark.

“I’d love one day in 8-10 years’ time to say Moeen made it easier for me. There have been guys before me who made it easier, so you hope to open the door for someone else.”

Ali thanked his coaches, captains and all of his family for their support during his Test career.

“I have to thank Peter Moores and Chris Silverwood for being my coaches and Peter for giving me my debut. Cookie and Rooty as the captains who I’ve enjoyed playing under and I hope they are happy with how I played.

“My parents are my number one, I feel without their support there is no way I would have made it, every game I played was for them and I know they are really proud of me. My brothers and my sister, on my bad days they’ve been the first to pick me up and my wife and kids, my wife’s sacrifices and the patience she has, I am really grateful for that.

“They have all been amazing on my journey, everything I did I did for them,” said Ali.

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KKR elect to bat first against CSK




Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bat first against Chennai Super Kings in their IPL 2021 match here on Sunday.

Morgan said the reason he chose to bat first was that he reckoned the pitch may slow down further in the second half of the match.

The Knight Riders were unchanged while the Super Kings brought in Sam Curran for Dwayne Bravo. MS Dhoni said Bravo has been rested as he had picked up a niggle in the Caribbean Premier League.

Playing XI:

Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (capt), Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy.

Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaekwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt) (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood.

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India finish ODI series on a high, snatch 2-wicket win vs Australia




India finished the ODI leg of the multi-format series on a high with a brilliant two-wicket win — fashioned by a collective team effort — which ended Australia’s unbeaten ODI streak of 26 matches on Sunday. However, Australia won the ODI series 2-1, with the multi-format series’ scoreline reading 4-2.

The third and final ODI in Mackay went down to the wire but this time India held their nerves as they sealed a thrilling two-wicket win with just three balls to spare. Tall India pacer Jhulan Goswami hit the winning runs, lofting it straight for a four.

Chasing a target of 265, India showed poise and power in their response, with the opening pair of Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana putting on 59 for the first wicket. Negotiating the new-ball partnership of Perry and McGrath, Mandhana fell to the off-spin of Gardner for 22 (25), with Annabel Sutherland taking a catch running back from mid-off.

Young Yastika Bhatia continued her fine start to international cricket, ticking things along with Verma, bringing up a 100-run stand in just 19 overs.

At 160/1 after 29 overs and needing just 105, India looked in prime position, before a double blow swung the pendulum back once again. Verma fell to the left-arm orthodox spin of Sophie Molineux for 56, while wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh was dismissed an over later, with Sutherland taking her first wicket.

Bhatia continued her press with captain Mithali Raj, with only a piece of inspired fielder ending her stay at the crease. Top-edging a short ball, Bhatia became Stella Campbell’s first victim in international cricket, only after a diving catch from substitute fielder Molly Strano.

Sutherland doubled her tally by rattling Vastrakar’s (3) stumps, leaving Mithali and No.7 Deepti Sharma needing a run a ball from the last 10 overs. Sutherland struck once again, in her next over, snaring the India skipper, who was bowled for 16.

Rana got a lifeline when she was dropped by Nicola Carey on 11 on the last ball of the 44th over. The equation came down to India requiring 33 runs from the last five overs, with four wickets in hand.

The luck was on Rana’s side as she got another life in the next over. Once again it was Carey, who completed a caught and bowled dismissal, but the delivery was called a no-ball as Carey had overstepped.

McGrath broke the 33-run seventh-wicket stand by snaring Deepti’s wicket for 31. Riding on a lucky run, the onus was on Rana to take her side across the line but she eventually became Carey’s victim in the penultimate over.

Goswami and Meghna Singh made sure there weren’t any more hiccups, as they guided India to a memorable win, that will help boost their confidence for next year’s ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.

Earlier, Meg Lanning won the third consecutive toss for the Australians in the series and elected to bat. Australia’s opening pair of Rachael Haynes and Alyssa Healy looked to keep the heat on in the middle, racing to 40 inside the first eight overs, only for the pressure to be released through the work of veteran quick Jhulan Goswami.

Brief scores: Australia Women 264/9 in 50 overs (A Healy 35, B Mooney 52, A Gardner 67; T McGrath 47; J Goswami 3/37, P Vastrakar 3/46) lost to India Women 266/8 in 49.3 overs (S Verma 56, Y Bhatia 64; A Sutherland 3/30) by 2 wickets.

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