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IPL 2021: All-round Kolkata deliver crushing win over Rajasthan

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 Strong performances with the bat and ball helped Kolkata Knight Riders deliver a crushing 86-run win over Rajasthan Royals in Match 54 of IPL 2021 here on Thursday. After scoring 171/4 in 20 overs, Kolkata applied pressure right from the start which resulted in Rajasthan crashing to 86 all out in 16.1 overs.

With this win, Kolkata have almost confirmed the last remaining spot for the playoffs. Apart from delivering the knockout punch to Rajasthan, Punjab Kings have been officially ousted from the tournament while Mumbai Indians’ chances are now left hanging by a very slim thread. There was nothing royal about Rajasthan, who fell like ninepins in their last league match of the tournament.

They were reduced to 17/4 in power-play as Kolkata effectively broke the back of the chase. Shakib Al Hasan struck on the third ball of the innings as Yashasvi Jaiswal went for a reverse sweep but missed it and was bowled. In the next over, Sanju Samson clipped Shivam Mavi’s first ball to mid-wicket. Lockie Ferguson’s double strike in the fourth over left Rajasthan in deep shambles.

Liam Livingstone top-edged a pull off a short ball to deep square leg. Two balls later, Anuj Rawat was beaten for pace and trapped plumb in front of the stumps. Glenn Phillips and Shivam Dube struck a six each off Sunil Narine. But in the next over, Phillips was hurried for pace and bowled by a straight delivery from Mavi. Three balls later, Mavi went past Dube’s attempted flick to hit the stumps. From there, it was a free fall for Rajasthan.

Rahul Tewatia’s three boundaries off Mavi in the tenth over helped Rajasthan avoid the ignominy of lowest-ever total in the IPL. The all-rounder continued to wage the lone battle, hitting boundaries against Chakravarthy, Ferguson and Narine despite running out of partners from the other end. Mavi put an end to Rajasthan’s misery as Tewatia bottom edged to his stumps, giving the right-arm pacer his fourth wicket of the match.

Earlier, Kolkata started slow but ended up registering the highest score at Sharjah in the tournament, thanks to Shubman Gill stylish 56. Kolkata had a sedate start with 34/0 in power-play, including four boundaries. Post that, Venkatesh Iyer hit Jaydev Unadkat for a four through short third man followed by sixes down the ground and over long-on.

Tewatia broke the 79-run opening stand in the 11th over as Iyer missed a straight delivery and was bowled through his legs. Nitish Rana welcomed Phillips with a four and six in the next over. But Phillips had the last laugh on the fifth ball as Rana was caught off the toe-end at long-off.

Rahul Tripathi tore into Dube, taking back-to-back boundaries in the 14th over. Amidst all this, Gill held one end while finding boundaries in between. Gill brought up his fifty with a boundary off Chetan Sakariya in the 15th over, his second of the season. Gill whipped Chris Morris for a boundary in the next over.

But a wide later, Gill mistimed a loft to cover, giving Morris his first wicket of the UAE leg. Sakariya returned in the 18th over to disturb a sweeping Tripathi’s stumps. Dinesh Karthik and Eoin Morgan landed some lusty blows in the last few overs to take Kolkata to a total which was more than enough to seal their fifth win in the UAE leg of the tournament.

Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 171/4 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 56, Venkatesh Iyer 38, Rahul Tewatia 1/11, Glenn Phillips 1/17) beat Rajasthan Royals 85 all out in 16.1 overs (Rahul Tewatia, 44, Shivam Dube 18, Shivam Mavi 4/21, Lockie Ferguson 3/18) by 86 runs.

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Ravi Shastri calls for reduction in number of T20Is played to counter scheduling issues

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Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has called for a reduction in the number of T20Is played to counter the raging issue of scheduling in international cricket. The month of July 2022 has seen the issue of hectic scheduling in cricket and prioritisation of franchise T20 leagues being reignited.

South Africa chose to pull out of a three-match ODI series against Australia in January 2023 to ensure their players would be available for the upcoming new domestic T20 competition in the country.

Earlier this week, England’s Test skipper and all-rounder Ben Stokes announced his retirement from ODI cricket after the first match against South Africa at the age of 31, citing the “unsustainable” workload by playing in all three formats.

With speculations coming that the upcoming Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the 2023-27 cycle will have more of T20I action, Shastri, currently in United Kingdom as a member of the Sky Sports commentary team, feels that bilateral T20Is should be reduced by a huge amount to free up the hectic international calendar.

“I would be a little careful of the number of bilateral splits, especially in T20 cricket. There’s a lot of franchise cricket which can be encouraged, whichever country it’s in – India, West Indies, or Pakistan. You play less bilaterals and then you get together for the World Cups. So, the emphasis on ICC World Cup events becomes paramount. Then people look forward to them,” said Shastri in an episode of the Vaughany and Tuffers podcast.

Shastri, a former India all-rounder and member of the 1983 Cricket World Cup winning team, further asked for creation of two divisions in Test cricket in a bid to safeguard the future of the longest format of the game.

“I think two tiers are needed, otherwise Test cricket will die in 10 years time. You need six teams at the top, and then six teams in the second and then you qualify. And those top six play against each other more often because of the corridor you open up by having less bilateral T20 cricket and just franchise cricket. That’s the way all formats of the game can survive.”

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Nation needs President who can protect constitution: Yashwant Sinha

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 Joint opposition candidate for Presidential poll, Yashwant Sinha on Friday said the nation needs a president who can protect the Constitution of the country.

Sinha was in Gujarat to seek support for himself. He appealed to the MLAs and MPs to vote for the candidate “who can protect the Constituency of India”.

He said the nation was passing through a serious constitutional and economic crises and at such a point of time the nation needs a president who does not toe the party line at the cost of national interest.

“There is an undeclared emergency in the country, even the media does not have the liberty to practice the profession freely when a check and balance is must for the country. So MLAs and MPs should vote in accordance with their conscience,” said sinha.

The former minister said he was confident of getting votes of the MLAs and MPs belonging to the Congress, BTP and NCP in the state.

He said he disagreed with the political theory that if a person is from a specific community and one holds a constitutional post it helps in uplifting the community. Citing the example of NDA presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu, he said,”They are projecting her as a tribal representative, she was the Governor of Jharkhand for six year, yet tribals’ conditions have not improved.”

“Though Ram Nath Kovind was president, see the condition of the community in his state. Nothing has changed, on the contrary they have suffered a lot,” said Sinha.

He, however, made it clear that he did not mean that a person should confront the central government.

He said, “Communalism is spreading because the state is backing it because communalism is consolidating the vote bank for them.”

Sinha said he was shocked to find that even today section 144 is implemented in Gujarat and questioned the state who it was afraid of. He said, “Even for social functions or events the people of Gujarat are asked to seek permission which is anti democracy.”

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I have seen glimpses of what this hockey team can achieve: Women’s coach Schopman

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India women’s hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman has said she has “seen glimpses” of what her players can achieve following her side’s 3-4 loss in a hard-fought Pool B match of the FIH World Cup 2022 against New Zealand here late on Thursday.

Despite going down to the Kiwis, India are still in contention for a quarterfinal spot after finishing third in their pool. They will face Spain, who finished second in Pool C, in the crossover match on July 10 for a place in the last-eight.

Schopman also attributed the loss to New Zealand to defensive frailties and the rivals’ clinical finishes.

“I am proud of our fight as we worked really hard to stay in the game. Unfortunately, we made some defensive mistakes and New Zealand were very clinical in their finish,” said Schopman.

“There are a lot of things to learn from this game but I have seen glimpses of what we can do. Especially, our performance in the second half showed that we can play some good hockey,” she added.

For India, Vandana Katariya (4th munite), Lalremsiami (44th) and Gurjit Kaur (59th) were on target. The Indian team started the game aggressively and put pressure on their opponents in the opening minutes of the match.

But the Kiwis fought back after they earned a penalty corner and Olivia Merry didn’t miss out on the opportunity of slotting the ball into the goal in the 12th minute.

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