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Thursday,20-January-2022

International

IPL 2021: Rahul 67 helps Punjab beat Kolkata by five wickets

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Skipper KL Rahul struck a well-paced half-century to help Punjab Kings beat Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets in a thrilling encounter in the IPL 2021 here on Friday, moving to fifth position and maintaining their chances of making it to the knockout rounds.

Both teams needed a win — the KKR more so as it would have pushed them to 12 points from 12 games and closer to a place in the top four. But it was not to be as Punjab (10) won the match and reached the fifth position, moving ahead of Mumbai Indian (10) on better Net Run Rate. This win means that the Delhi Capitals are assured of a place in the knockouts with Punjab, KKR, and Mumbai Indian on 10 points and fighting for the final qualifying spot.

Punjab restricted KKR for 165/7 in their 20 overs despite a superb 67 by opener Venkatesh Iyer and a quick 31 off 18 deliveries by Nitesh Rana, with some good bowling in the middle overs, and came back to reach 168/5 in 19.3 overs capitalising on a few dropped catches by their opponents. Punjab too lost their way a bit in the middle overs on a slow track but Rahul managed the innings well and helped them keep their noses ahead. Punjab were also helped by a debatable decision on a diving catch by Rahul Tripathi by the third umpire. A wicket at that time would have made things very difficult for Punjab. Rahul was eventually out, caught by Shivam Mavi off Iyer with Punjab needing four runs to win off as many deliveries. Shahrukh Khan (22 off 9 balls) blasted the next ball over the infield and the fielder spilled it over the rope and Punjab won the match.

Rahul and his opening partner Mayank Agarwal gave the team a great start — with Agarwal capitalising on an early life — as Punjab chased down the target after asking KKR to bat first. Rahul anchored the innings while Agarwal went for his shots as they raised 70 runs for the opening stand. Agarwal, who struck three big sixes after being put down by Eoin Morgan when he had not yet scored a run, was caught by Morgan, incidentally, off Varun Chakravarthy.

Punjab lost a couple of wickets, Nicolas Pooran (12), Aiden Markram (18), and Deepak Hooda (3) getting out early but Rahul found a good partner in the big-hitting Shahrukh Khan and they pushed Punjab Kings across the line.

Earlier, after his partner Shubman Gill was out early, Venkatesh Iyer (67) hit some powerful shots to post his highest score in IPL in his fifth match but just when KKR, asked to bat first, were looking to dominate the match, Punjab Kings came back to claim some quick wickets in the middle overs to halt their progress. Nitish Rana struck some good blows in making 31 off 18 balls that proved crucial for KKR. Arshdeep Singh was the most successful Punjab bowler as he claimed 3/32 while Ravi Bishnoi picked 2/22 in his four overs as Punjab did well in the middle overs to restrict KKR which were looking for a score around 180.

KKR did their chances lot of harm by picking only four bowlers in order to get an extra batsman — hoping that Venkatesh Iyer and Nitish Rana, who did well for them with the bat, will make good of the four overs. But the two batting-allrounder cost them 37 runs in 3.3 overs which in the end thwarted them.

Brief scores:

Kolkata Knight Riders: 165/7 in 20 overs (Venkatesh Iyer 67, Rahul Tripathi 34, Nitish Rana 31; Arshdeep Singh 3/32, Ravi Bishnoi 2/22) lost to Punjab Kings 168/5 in 19.3 overs (KL Rahul 67, Mayank Agarwal 40, Shahrukh Khan 22; Varun Chakravarthy 2/24).

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Australia rise to top of ICC Test rankings, India slip down to third spot

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Australia climbed to the top spot in the latest ICC Test team rankings released on Thursday on the back of their 4-0 Ashes series victory against England while India slipped down to the third position after suffering a 2-1 away series defeat in South Africa.

Pat Cummins led Australia won the first, second, third and the fifth Test matches convincingly against England at Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart. England only were able to draw the fourth contest in Sydney, managing to save the Test by the skin of their teeth.

This relentless display has seen Australia jump up two places to No 1 in the rankings, overtaking both New Zealand and India with 119 rating points.

On the other hand, India, who were ranked No 1 in the Test team rankings, slipped down to the third spot after their series loss against Proteas and have 116 points at present. After a brilliant victory in the first Test in Centurion, they were dealt back-to-back defeats in Johannesburg and Cape Town as their quest for a first Test series victory in South Africa continued.

South Africa after their series win have climbed up one spot to No 5 in the rankings chart with 101 rating points.

Meanwhile, New Zealand, the inaugural World Test Championship winners, have retained their second position in the rankings with 117 rating points after their drawn home series against Bangladesh. After losing the first Test at the Bay Oval, the Kiwis bounced back with a comprehensive performance at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Pakistan slipped down one spot to No 6 with 93 rating points. Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland have managed to retain their respective positions in the ranking charts.

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Sharma, Pant and Ashwin included in ICC Men’s Test Team of the Year

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India opener Rohit Sharma, wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have been included in the ICC Men’s Test team of the year for 2021.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has been given the charge of captaining the eleven which also has his countryman and Player of the Match in the inaugural World Test Championship final, Kyle Jamieson, as well.

Apart from three Indians and two New Zealanders, England captain Joe Root, Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne, Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne, and Pakistani trio of Fawad Alam, Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi are in the eleven as well.

It is Ashwin’s fifth appearance and Pant’s second time in the Test team of the year honours while it is the first time Sharma is in the coveted eleven of Test cricket.

2021 was the year when Sharma came into his own as an opener in the longest format of the game for India. He cracked 906 runs in the calendar year at an average of 47.68 with two centuries and four half-centuries.

Both of the centuries were memorable knocks in contrasting conditions against England — one at home in Chennai and the other in overcast conditions away from home at the Oval. Though Sharma missed out on the recent Test tour to South Africa, he will have a key role to play for India in 2022.

Pant, in 2021, further established himself as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batter in all three formats, with his continuous development especially coming to the fore in the Test arena.

He scored 748 runs in 12 matches at an average of 39.36 with a memorable ton against England at Ahmedabad, a 97 against Australia, and an unbeaten 89 against the same opposition at The Gabba in leading India to a memorable Border-Gavaskar Trophy victory by 2-1.

He also accounted for 39 dismissals in 23 innings, with his glovework continuing to improve. Recently, in Cape Town, Pant scored a high-quality hundred despite India losing the series to South Africa 2-1.

Ashwin, the off-spinner bamboozled many batters with his sheer wizardry to be the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2021. Ashwin scalped up 54 wickets in nine matches at an average of 16.64, making a big impact in the home series against England and New Zealand.

He also chipped in with 355 runs at an average of 25.35, which included a vital century against England at his home ground in Chennai.

ICC Men’s Test Team of the Year: Dimuth Karunaratne, Rohit Sharma, Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Root, Kane Williamson (captain), Fawad Alam, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Kyle Jamieson, Hasan Ali, and Shaheen Afridi

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Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami named in ICC Women’s ODI Team of the Year

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Veteran Indian cricketers Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami on Thursday were named in ICC Women’s ODI Team of the Year for 2021.

The ICC Team of the Year, led by England’s Heather Knight, recognizes the achievements of some exceptional players in women’s cricket who impressed one and all with their on-field exploits in a calendar year.

India’s ODI skipper Mithali Raj amassed 503 runs at an average of 62.87 in 2021. Her runs came at a time when the Indian team struggled as a unit, which makes her contribution even more important.

The veteran batter didn’t score any century this year but made a total of six half-centuries.

On the other hand, Jhulan Goswami claimed a total of 15 wickets in 2021 and maintained an excellent economy rate of 3.77 as well.

The 39-year-old Indian pacer is still proving herself to be a force to reckon with. An experienced bowler who can keep runs in check, and pick up wickets at the same time, is an asset for any side.

Overall, the ODI team has three players from South Africa, one from Australia, two from West Indies, and two from England, two from India and one from Pakistan.

ICC Women’s ODI Team of 2021: Lizelle Lee (South Africa), Alyssa Healy (wk) (Australia), Tammy Beaumont (England), Mithali Raj (India), Heather Knight (c) (England), Marizanne Kapp (South Africa), Hayley Matthews (West Indies), Fatima Sana (Pakistan), Jhulan Goswami (India), Shabnim Ismail (South Africa), Anisa Mohammed (West Indies)

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