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Friday,03-December-2021

International

It’s inevitable that it’s going to be there: Ponting feels Paine saga will be talked in The Ashes

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Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting feels that the Tim Paine saga will be talked about wherever the Australian team will go during The Ashes. He added that it might end up distracting Paine and the Australian team in their quest to retain the Ashes at home. Paine had suddenly stepped down from being the Test captain on Friday after an off-field scandal involving text messages with a former Cricket Tasmania female staffer came into limelight.

“As much as we would all love to see it go away and there comes a point where it’s never talked about, it’s inevitable that it’s going to be there. If he plays in Brisbane (for the first Test), the rest of the group and everyone needs to move on and do the best they can to forget about it and knuckle down,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Wednesday.

“I think inevitably it will (be a distraction). Yes, he’s made a huge call for himself, for Australian cricket and for the betterment of the Australian cricket team. But it’s not going to go away. We’re only a few weeks out from the first Test – it will bubble along,” added Ponting.

He also thinks that Paine will be asked about the scandal wherever he goes in future. “Unfortunately for Tim he’s going to get asked about it everywhere he goes. Whenever you make mistakes and you’ve got to front up in front of the cricket-loving public, you have some doubts in the back of your mind for a period of time.”

The 46-year-old believes that Paine making an on-field comeback after a neck surgery will provide him solace. In a match for Tasmania’s second XI, Paine took six catches but made just one run with the bat. “When you’re out in the middle, that’s the only place you can get away from it. The first thing he did Saturday morning was put his club gear on, head out and try to play club cricket in Hobart, which is where he will find the most serenity. When he’s out in the middle he’s got something else to focus on and think about, which is cricket. It will blow over and hopefully it passes in enough time to have some really good clear headspace going into Brisbane.”

Ponting signed off by saying that wicketkeeper-batter Alex Carey could be a good pick if Paine doesn’t feature in the first Ashes Test at Brisbane. For future, his pick is Josh Inglis. “If he (Paine) plays this series and he finishes at the end of the series, they might look at a younger guy. If he’s not picked for Brisbane, they might think about someone who’s a bit more experienced, being an Ashes series. If Paine doesn’t play in Brisbane the obvious one is Alex Carey. If Paine does play the Ashes series, they might look at someone like Inglis post this summer.”

“I’m on record saying I love Inglis – I think he’s going to be a really good cricketer for Australia for a long time in whatever format they pick him in first, whether it’s T20s, one-dayers or Test cricket. Speaking to Brad Haddin and even ‘Painey’ – they really rate his keeping, they talk really highly of it. He could definitely be a long term, not just an international player, (but also) a Test player.”

International

IND v NZ, 2nd Test: India reach 111/3 at tea on Day 1

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 India were 111/3 at tea on a truncated opening day of the second Test against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday.

Opener Mayank Agarwal was batting on 52 while Shreyas Iyer was not out on 7 as the hosts lost their way after a good start.

Ajaz Patel claimed all three wickets in the space of 15 balls as India slumped from 80/1 in the 28th over to 80/3 at the end of the 30th over.

Brief scores: India 111/3 in 37 overs (Mayank Agarwal batting 52, Shubman Gill 44; Ajaz Patel 3/30) vsNew Zealand.

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ATP backs WTA, asks China to come clean on tennis player Peng Shuai’s wellbeing

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The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has thrown its weight behind the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), expressing concern over the well-being of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared from public view for three weeks after accusing a top Chinese government official of sexual assault.

WTA chief Steve Simon recently said that he has “serious doubts” that Peng was “free, safe and not subject to intimidation”. He also announced suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, with immediate effect till the country investigates in a full, fair and transparent manner the allegation of sexual assault made against a former senior politician by the 35-year-old doubles player.

Late on Thursday, the ATP, the body which governs men’s international tennis, said, “the situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious”.

ATP chairman, Andrea Gaudenzi, issued a statement, saying, “The situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious concerns within and beyond our sport. The response to those concerns has so far fallen short. We again urge for a line of open direct communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation.

“We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact,” said Gaudenzi.

“We will continue to consult with our members and monitor any developments as this issue evolves.”

WTA administration and players have been in total support of Peng Shuai ever since screenshots of her social media post were shared on Twitter and the WTA has regularly demanded verifiable proof from Chinese government that Peng Shuai is “free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation”.

Chinese authorities have released videos of her at a restaurant and also arranged for a video call with senior officials of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but WTA is not convinced, thus resulting in the suspension of all its tournaments in China.

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Finally, Test cricket returns to Wankhede and Mumbai is loving it

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Office-goers walking through the ‘D Lane’ in Churchgate area of Mumbai on Friday morning were surprised when a group of people started blowing conch shells, waving India flags and chanting ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ as a bus convoy entered the lane on way to the Wankhede Stadium.

They would have been expecting some activity considering that a Test match was scheduled at the Wankhede, but the reception accorded to the convoy must have come as a surprise to many.

While such enthusiasm was a little unexpected but it was not completely out of place as Mumbai is hosting a Test match after nearly five years, and the small crowd that had gathered since early morning, could not control its emotions as the buses ferrying the Indian team made it to the stadium.

The India versus England game in 2016 was the last time a Test match was played at the Wankhede, and with other cricketing activity not possible because of the suspension of sports activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it meant there was a little more enthusiasm among the faithful.

A small group waited patiently for the gates to open so that they could get into the stadium. Hosts Mumbai Cricket Association is allowed to sell only 8000 tickets as the government has authorised only 25 per cent stadium capacity to be filled. With Mumbai police making elaborate arrangements for the Test, Covid protocols are being followed strictly with officials ensuring that people follow the rules.

Though the sparse crowd’s enthusiasm was dampened a bit as the start of the match was delayed due to wet patches on the ground because of the rains, it waited patiently, waving the Indian flags as the players came out for warm-up and light practice.

The crowd erupted in a loud cheer as the New Zealand players, followed by the Indian openers, walked into the field. And the cheers grew louder as Shubman Gill struck two consecutive boundaries off Kyle Jamieson in the second over, with the typical Mumbai chant of “Sachin, Sachin” reaching a crescendo.

More people are expected to come in the next few days as things get interesting.

The last Test played at Wankhede was against England in which skipper Kohli had scored a majestic 235, while Jayant Yadav has smashed a century.

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