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K.L. Rahul and Mohammed Siraj move up in ICC Test Rankings

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India’s opening batsman K.L. Rahul and pace bowler Mohammed Siraj have made significant gains in the ICC Test Rankings released on Wednesday.

Rahul and Siraj were the chief architects of India’s 151-run victory over England at Lord’s in the second Test that ended on Monday, helping the tourists take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

Rahul was adjudged Player of the Match for his knock of 129 in the first innings. The 29-year-old opener, whose career-best is the eighth position attained in November 2017, has gained 19 slots to reach 37th place.
Siraj has climbed 18 places to reach 38th position. The 27-year-old pacer took four wickets in both innings of the Lord’s Test. His total haul of eight wickets for 126 runs ensured that India sealed a win in a riveting Lord’s Test.

Other gainers from the Lord’s Test include England captain Joe Root. Root’s unbeaten knock of 180 in the first innings has resulted in moving two places to be ranked second with 893 rating points, only eight less than top-ranked New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.

James Anderson moved one spot to sixth place after a five-wicket haul in the first innings. His fellow pacer Mark Wood jumped five places to be ranked 37th after taking five wickets in the match.

A thrilling first Test between West Indies and Pakistan in Kingston saw Pakistan skipper Babar Azam gain two slots to be placed sixth in batting chart after scores of 30 and 55. Faheem Ashraf and Fawad Alam also rose up to 48th and 55th places respectively.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite, who missed a first-innings century by three runs, has advanced 18 places to 45th. Jason Holder’s brilliant all-round display saw him break into the top 10 of the bowling rankings, rising to ninth place. He also gained five spots in the batting rankings, moving to 43rd.

Jayden Seales soared up 39 places to the 58th spot in the bowling charts after his eight wickets in the match earned him the Player of the Match award while Kemar Roach moved up two places to 11th. Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi gained four spots to be placed 18th.

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Djokovic confirmed for ATP Cup; drops hint he will compete at Australian Open

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Serbia’s world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has confirmed himself for January’s ATP Cup tournament in Sydney, dropping a hint that he could compete in the season-opening major, the Australian Open, commencing on January 17.

Djokovic — who finished year-end world No. 1 for the record-breaking seventh time, moving ahead of his idol, American legend Pete Sampras (six years) — has perhaps given the clearest hint that he will be there in Melbourne to defend his Australian Open title in January.

A total of 16 countries will compete in the third edition of the ATP Cup beginning January 1, 2022, with four groups announced at the official tournament draw on Tuesday, according to sen.com.au.

“18 of the top 20 tennis players in the world will feature in the tournament set to run from January 1-9 as the main ATP precursor to the Australian Open.”

Djokovic has so far kept the Australian Open organisers and his fans guessing about his Covid-19 vaccination status, adding to the uncertainty over whether he will compete in the major.

Djokovic’s father Srdjan recently said that Novak “probably won’t” play the Australian Open as the tournament organisers’ decision to not allow unvaccinated players — or players who don’t share their Covid-19 vaccination status — amounts to “blackmail”.

The Australian Open director Craig Tiley has stated that only fully vaccinated players will be allowed to compete in the tournament. Djokovic, the nine-time and defending Australian Open champion, has refused to divulge his vaccination status, or whether he intends to get vaccinated before the event.

Djokovic celebrated his 350th week atop the ATP Rankings on Tuesday, extending his record for the most weeks in the top spot, even as the Serbian set sights on Germany’s women’s tennis great Steffi Graf’s record of 377 weeks at the top of the WTA rankings.

Among the other top players who have confirmed their participation in the ATP Cup for their respective countries are, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev.

The event will see four winning countries advance to the semifinals following the group stage.

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Anderson’s omission will cost England dear: Aussie opener Warner

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Australian opener David Warner has said that James Anderson’s omission from the England side for the opening Ashes Test at The Gabba, which began on Wednesday, will cost the tourists dear as the veteran pacer’s “line, length and control is always outstanding”.

Anderson was not included in the tourist’s 12-member squad on Tuesday as the England team management felt the workload of five Ashes Tests would be a bit too much for the 39-year-old.

There were speculations that Anderson was carrying an injury but an England spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday, that it wasn’t the case. Rather, the decision to leave out Anderson had to do with managing his workload in the high-octane series.

Warner felt that Anderson’s omission for the Brisbane Test could be a huge bonus for Australia.

“Having Jimmy out is a big thing for us,” Warner said on SEN 1170 Breakfast ahead of the start of the Test. “It’s not just his wicket-taking ability, but his line, length and control is always outstanding. As a batsman you can never get on top of him, so having him out is big.”

Warner, however, felt that Anderson’s replacement, Chris Woakes, would also be a potential threat to Australian batters.

“Someone like Chris Woakes could come in for him and he’s just as good as a bowler. He doesn’t have the wickets on the board but he’s a phenomenal bowler and he always hits those line and lengths. So, they do have good replacements for him.”

England were dismissed for 147 in 50.1 overs with Australia skipper Pat Cummins taking a five-for on the opening day of the Test.

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UEFA Champions League: Leipzig clinch 2-1 win over Manchester City

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Leipzig sealed the third place in Group A and booked its berth for the Europa League after goals from Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva helped the ‘Red Bulls’ edge Manchester City 2-1 in the final round of the Champions League’s group stage.

Both sides staged well-positioned defences from the kick-off hence goal-scoring opportunities were at a premium in the opening period on Tuesday night.

Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer and City’s Kevin De Bruyne produced the first half-chances before Jack Grealish pulled wide from a promising position to waste a good chance for the visitors in the 22nd minute.

The hosts showed a clinical chance conversion at the other end of the green, as Laimer’s perfectly-timed through ball was sent to Szoboszlai, who rounded goalkeeper Zackary Steffen before finishing the job into the empty goal with 24 minutes played, Xinhua reports. Leipzig almost doubled its advantage two minutes later, but Steffen was on guard and defused Emil Forsberg’s dangerous effort from 12 meters.

The hosts continued on the front foot and should have extended the lead, but Steffen was equal to Silva’s header in the 39th minute.

Manchester City sparked to life before the half time as Peter Gulacsi had to tip Phil Foden’s hammer to the post before the Leipzig goalkeeper neutralised De Bruyne’s free kick in the closing stages of the first half.

After the restart, City assumed control and dominated possession but for all that the visitors couldn’t do damage to Leipzig’s bulwark.

To make things worse for the visitors, Leipzig doubled its advantage against the flow of the game as Silva benefitted on a counterattack via Forsberg to beat Steffen with a well-placed low shot in the 71st minute.

It was a short-lived joy for the hosts though as the ‘Sky Blues’ halved the deficit after Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross fed Riyad Mahrez, whose diving header caught Gulacsi on the wrong foot in the 77th minute.

City’s comeback hopes suffered a heavy setback in the 83rd minute when Kyle Walker was sent off with a straight red card following a rude foul play on Silva.

The visitors pushed forward despite their numerical disadvantage, but Leipzig’s defence stood firm and secured all three points on home soil.

With the result, Manchester City top Group A with 12 points whereas Leipzig finish on the third spot to continue in the Europa League.

Dortmund crush Besiktas 5-0

A brace each by Marco Reus and Erling Haaland smoothed the way for Borussia Dortmund’s 5-0 victory over Besiktas at the last round of Champions League’s group stage on Tuesday. The “BVB” took the reins from the starting whistle and pressed Besiktas on the back foot.

Dortmund still needed some time to produce goal-scoring opportunities and had to wait until the 17th minute before Jude Bellingham pulled over the target from a promising position.

Besiktas posed no threat and failed to combine its ways through Dortmund’s well-positioned defence.

The hosts eventually broke the deadlock at the half hour mark when Bellingham had a lot of space following a counterattack and teed up for Donyell Malen, who slotted the ball past Besiktas goalie Ersin Destanoglu.

The visitors from Turkey had to swallow two more setbacks before the break as Welinton felled Mahmoud Dahoud inside the box. The defender received his marching orders and caused a penalty.

Reus stepped up and made no mistake to double the advantage from the spot.

Dortmund dominated the one-sided affair and made it three with eight minutes into the second half when Reus danced through Besiktas box before finishing off into the bottom left corner.

Haaland came in for Reus at the hour mark but didn’t need long to get his name on the scoreboards as the Norway international made it 4-0 after nodding home Nico Schulz pinpoint cross into the box in the 68th minute.

Haaland gained momentum and wasn’t done with the scoring as he wrapped up his brace after heading home Dahoud’s corner kick in the 81st minute.

Dortmund’s prolific striker had even the chance to clinch a hat trick but for all that Haaland couldn’t turn his two presentable chances into a tangible reward in the closing stages.

With the result, third-placed Borussia Dortmund will continue to play in the Europa League meanwhile Besiktas end its Champions League season on fourth place in Group C.

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