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Monday,27-June-2022

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IPL 2022: Hardik Pandya’s captaincy has been a big part of our success, says Vikram Solanki

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In the newbies Gujarat Titans’ impressive run in the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL), the captaincy skills of Hardik Pandya has been a vital cog in the wheel, speaking to the bowlers and having good communication with everyone in the team.

Hence, it wasn’t surprising that on the eve of Qualifier 1 match against Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens, Vikram Solanki, Gujarat’s director of cricket, acknowledged that Pandya’s captaincy and involvement in the game has played a huge part in the success of the side in the tournament.

“He has grown as a leader. He has taken to the captaincy very well. He has been very giving of his time and has really sort of involved. That is what exactly is paying off. He is having conversations with each and every bowler. Of course, someone like a Shami needs no guidance. But it is always useful to have a connection or understanding of what they are planning to do,” said Solanki in the pre-match virtual press conference.

“Hardik’s display of captaincy is actually interacting with the bowler, which is just quick communication playing out and making sure that our plans are in place and everybody is on same sort of page. What I will add again is to reiterate the fact that Hardik’s captaincy has been a big part of our success. He’s absolutely been involved in every aspect of our campaign and long may he continue to do so,” added Solanki, a former England batter.

In the form of Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha, Gujarat have found a dependable opening pair though the latter has been the aggressor of late in power-play. Solanki quashed suggestions that the opening pair of Gill, in particular, and Saha are a weak point for the side, citing the former’s 63 not out off 49 balls and carried his bat through the innings on a tough Pune pitch against Lucknow Super Giants.

“I would disagree with it because the partnership created by Shubman and Wridhhi has been a very good one for us. What you are saying about Shubman’s performance, it is incorrect according to me. Shubman has made so many match-winning contributions on his own abilities. For example, you can see the match against LSG, the way he handled his knock and controlled the whole innings, he gave us a chance to put up a defendable score, and then we were able to win the match.”

“I am in total disagreement with your assessment. As far as opening partnership is concerned, at the moment, Wriddhi (Wriddhiman Saha) and Shubman are an ideal combination. They compliment each other in their style of play and having Wriddhi around Shubman works very well because they communicate and have a good understanding, which works well for our opening partnership.”

In three out of Gujarat’s four losses in the league stage, top-order collapses of the side stood out as a common thread. Losing wickets back-to-back was also something which Pandya had said they would like to avoid in the playoffs after Gujarat’s loss to Bangalore in their final league match.

Asked about what has been his discussion with the batting group on avoiding wickets back-to-back, Solanki explained, “It’s a good question. But it is a common held view across all ages that there is no value in losing wickets. Jab se cricket chala hain, yeh baat toh pakki hain ki agar aap wicket lose naa kare, toh you are in a better position. (Since the time cricket has begun, it’s absolutely certain that if you don’t lose wicket, you are better placed). If you happen to lose wickets in a cluster, you always put yourself under pressure.”

“It’s not necessary that anyone in management, coaching or captain has to have discussion with the players on this. Players are experienced, they are playing IPL and international cricket and are well-versed with exactly what is required. There are obvious dangers in losing wickets in a cluster; it’s a given matter. That said, sometimes when it happens, you have to react and respond to that. There is no sort of signs to it and no surety that you will lose wickets in a cluster.”

“You can manage risk, certainly evaluate what is appropriately required at that time. But then, that’s a fine balance as well. We are playing T20 format and are constantly needing to balance risk and actual mindful batting, which is a common thing. I assure you all teams will be exactly of the same mindset: don’t lose wickets in a cluster, give ourselves opportunity to create partnerships and make use of it by putting the opposition under pressure. It’s exactly the same phase.”

International

India U-17 girls go down to Chile 1-3

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 The India U-17 women’s team suffered a 1-3 loss to Chile U-17 in a friendly game at the Aquileia, Italy.

The match started on Friday night at a relatively slow pace compared to the previous game against Italy. The first real chance came in the 10th minute when Naketa took a free-kick from long range but her shot missed the target. India were struck with a blow right after that as Chile scored in the 11th minute via Katerine Ramos.

India tried to bounce back from the setback, and on the 15th minute mark, Shubhangi crossed the ball and Lynda was able to take a shot but it was saved by the Chilean goalkeeper. Chile though secured a two-goal lead in the 19th minute, when Danlela whipped in a cross and Maitte put the ball into the back of the net with a header.

India did not give up though and kept attacking. In the 21st minute, Lynda attempted a shot from Astam’s cross but the former missed the target by a whisker. The pace of the game slowed down a bit after Chile’s second goal.

In the 26th minute, Chile’s Yennifer Pasten got injured and had to be substituted as Ambar Rolino came in for her. Chile got a corner in the 34th minute which was easily cleared by the Indian defence. India went into the break with a mountain to climb in the second half.

India started the second half on the front foot as Anita made a run down the right and took a shot but it was collected by the goalkeeper. Chile also kept attacking, this time through Ambar in the 43rd minute as her dangerous free-kick was cleared by the Indian defenders.

Coach Thomas Dennerby made a double substitution in the 51st minute as Kajol and Nitu Linda came on for Lynda Kom and Babina. This change had an immediate impact as India scored on the 55th minute mark. A cross from Neha landed at the feet of Kajol who tucked the ball away into the back of the net from a header.

However, India’s hopes came crashing down when Ambar scored the third goal for Chile and restored their two-goal advantage in the 67th minute.

India: Monalisha Devi, Naketa, Astam Oraon (Captain), Neha (Misha 68′), Lynda Kom (Kajol 51′), Anita Kumari (Sudha 78′), Purnima Kumari, Shubhangi Singh, Pinku Devi (Shelia 68′), Babina Devi (Nitu Linda 51′), Kajal (Rejiya 78′).

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International

Aussie skipper Finch overwhelmed by response from Sri Lankan fans during fifth ODI

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Australia white-ball skipper Aaron Finch has been overwhelmed by the response his team has received during the limited-over series, comprising three T20I and five ODIs, which concluded at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Friday night.

While Australia won the T20I series 2-1, Sri Lanka clinched the ODI series 3-2. The limited-overs series will now be followed by a two-Test series beginning at Galle on June 29.

Speaking about the hardships the Sri Lankans have faced over the last few months in the wake of a severe economic crisis, Finch said, “We’re very grateful that we’ve been able to tour here. We know the difficulties that Sri Lanka has faced in recent times. Hopefully over these eight white-ball games we’ve been able to provide some joy to people in the country.”

Despite the recent problems faced by the country, including long hours of power cuts, the Sri Lanka team showed the world their extraordinary spirit, winning their first series at home against Australia in 30 years.

Finch, the captain of the side on its first tour of the country since 2016, added that the support provided by the people of the island nation was “second to none”.

Thousands of people in Australia’s traditional colours descended on the R. Premadasa Stadium for the final ODI in a show of solidarity for the visiting team, and Finch said it was simply wonderful.

“It was outstanding, the Sri Lankan people are wonderful people. The support that they provide is second to none. They are great cricket supporters, it’s not just constant noise; they ride the emotions of the game. When Sri Lanka are up and about, that’s as loud as anywhere you’ll visit in the world,” Finch was quoted as saying by ICC.

In a video shared by cricket.com.au, Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell said, “That was pretty extraordinary. I was just saying to the boys that was one of the most special feelings. Being able to walk around the ground and have a foreign country cheer for you.

“A lot of times when Australia tours we are generally the enemy and there’s not too many Australian fans in the stands. But to have the support and fans that are here at the moment is truly extraordinary.

“Everyone’s wearing yellow. They’ve got all the Australian flags all over the place. It’s extremely special and it’s a credit to everyone that’s been able to get out here. It’s been such a tough time obviously for the locals. For them to come out and support us, hopefully, both teams can entertain them and they’ve had a really good time during the one-day series.”

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International

Maxwell banking on ability to tackle good spin bowling in tough conditions after Test recall

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On the verge of making his first Test appearance after almost five years, Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is banking upon his ability to tackle good spin bowling in tough Sri Lanka conditions ahead of the series opener at Galle on Wednesday.

Maxwell last played a Test match against Bangladesh in 2017 at Chattogram, the same year where he got his only Test century against India in Ranchi and was rushed to the squad in Johannesburg amid the ball-tampering saga in 2018. With left-handed batter Travis Head recovering from a hamstring injury, Maxwell was handed a return to the Test squad for the two-match series against Sri Lanka.

“I think I bring a lot of experience in these sorts of conditions and being able to tackle good spin bowling in tough conditions. It’s something I pride myself on, having quick feet and being able to find a way through adversity in tough conditions. Looking back to 2017, being able to get a Test hundred in India is something I’m extremely proud and to be one of only a couple of people in the last decade to do that is something I’m hoping holds me in good stead for this as well.”

“My game plan probably isn’t going to change a whole lot, probably just going to be a little more time consuming, being able to spend more time at the wicket, without any run-rate pressure on and I’m certainly looking forward to that opportunity to bat long periods of time,” Maxwell was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo after the end of ODI series.

The surprise return to the Test side also means that Maxwell might get a new Baggy Green as his original one has deteriorated and hadn’t been in his kit bag before leaving for Sri Lanka. “I didn’t want to be presumptuous and it turns out I’m glad I didn’t bring it because it’s completely disintegrated. So I’m going to have to get a new one for this Test tour. I’ll look like a first-gamer out there.”

“My last Test was a win in Bangladesh and (the cap) is full of all sorts of different things. It’s stayed in the little bag that we get. I took it out last year and had a look at it and it was deteriorating, thought that’s not a good sign. My wife took it out yesterday and said ‘I don’t think I can bring this’, it looked terrible, so think when I get home I’ll see if I can get it fixed up but it’s not looking great at the moment.”

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