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KKR owe big win to Varun Chakravarthy, Rana and Narine




Leg-spinner Varun Chakravarthy’s five-wicket haul and superb half-centuries from Nitish Rana and off-spinner Sunil Narine combined to guide Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to a crucial 59-run win over Delhi Capitals (DC) that kept the team in contention for the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs.

The win took KKR to 12 points from 11 matches, though they remain at the fourth place in the eight-team competition. And despite the defeat, DC remain static at the second spot, behind Mumbai Indians. Both DC and MI, as well as Royal Challengers Bangalore have 14 points each.

Four top teams qualify for the playoffs. Overall, the race for the fourth qualifying spot, if not for other potions above it, is still wide open, with even the wooden spooners Chennai Super Kings still in the fray, though mathematically and not on form.

KKR, who were asked to bat by DC captain Shreyas Iyer, recovered from early jolts to put a respectable 194/6 wickets on board, thanks to Rana’s scintillating knock (81, 53 balls, 13x4s, 1×6). Later, Chakravarthy (4-0-20-5) ripped apart the KKR batting line-up as the spinner claimed the first five-wicket haul of the current tournament to restrict DC to 135 for nine wickets in 20 overs.

Chasing the target, Delhi never looked in control, barring a 63-run partnership between Iyer (47) and Rishabh Pant (27).

DC lost openers Ajinkya Rahane, who failed to open his account, and in-form Shikhar Dhawan (6) with just 13 runs on board before Iyer and Pant stabilised the innings. Both DC openers were claimed by Pat Cummins (3/17), who looked quite impressive after some lacklustre performance in the recent past.

Chakravarthy, however, didn’t let the partnership develop as he cut short Pant’s stay in the 12th over, leaving DC at 76/3.

It was an absolute carnage by the KKR’s Chakravarthy as he went on to pick the wickets of Shimron Hetmyer (10), Iyer, Marcus Stoinis (6) and Axar Patel (9) in quick succession to leave DC at 112/7 wickets in 15.5 overs.

Kagiso Rabada chipped in with nine runs before becoming a victim of Cummins while Ravichandran Ashwin remained unbeaten on 14 as DC failed to cross the line by huge margin.

It was DC’s fourth defeat of the season.

Earlier, Rana (81) and Sunil Narine (64)rescued KKR from early blows, helping their side post a challenging 194/6 in the allotted 20 overs.

Anrich Nortje (2/27) struck twice to pack up Shubman Gill (9) and Rahul Tripathi (13) while Kagiso Rabada (2/33) dismissed Dinesh Karthik (3) to leave KKR tottering at 42/3 in 7.2 overs.

However, Rana and Narine anchored the innings with a crucial 115-run partnership and in the process also notched up their respective half-centuries.

Rabada struck again in the 17th over to send back Narine, whose innings contained six boundaries and four sixes. His fall saw KKR skipper Eoin Morgan (17) joining Rana in the middle and the duo were involved in a brief 37-run stand.

While trying to improve the run-rate, Rana and Morgan fell on the final two balls of the final over of the innings. However, it hardly affected KKR, which had already managed to put a decent total on board.

Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders: 194/6 wkts in 20 overs (Nitish Rana 81, Sunil Narine 64; Anrich Nortje 2/27) beat Delhi Capitals: 135/9 wkts in 20 overs (Shreyas Iyer 47, Rishabh Pant 27; Varun Chakravarthy 5/20) by 59 runs


They have to keep improving and getting better: Rahul Dravid




Indian head coach Rahul Dravid has said that he was not disappointed by the performance of the young batsmen in the T20I series against Sri Lanka. He believed that the youngsters have to keep getting better in future.

In Thursday’s decider at the R Premadasa Stadium, India managed to get just 81 in the first innings. Sri Lanka chased 82 with seven wickets in hand.

“I’m not disappointed. They are young batters; they have to keep improving and getting better. The Sri Lankan team’s bowling attack is their international bowling attack. They’re missing a few batsmen because of various reasons, but this is a top-quality attack. So, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on these performances, reflect on these conditions, and maybe come up with some slightly better strategies,” said Dravid in the post-match press conference.

Apart from skipper Shikhar Dhawan, India had just four batsmen for the last two T20Is in Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson and Nitish Rana. Among the four, Samson had the most experience with just seven T20Is.

“Let’s be fair, you don’t get these sorts of conditions very often in T20 cricket. But when you do, I think you need to have a response. You need to be able to play slightly better. They’re all youngsters, we just need to have patience with them, give them more opportunities so that they can develop and grow,” felt Dravid.

He added, “This was a really young team. All of us have had our struggles playing quality bowling, whether it’s spin or pace. Early on in our careers, we’ve all had those struggles and we’ve all had to fight our way through that. None of us have been perfect when we started, whether it’s my generation or any generation for that matter. It needs experience.”

He also pointed out the conditions which are different for the youngsters than him in the playing years, saying that there is a lot to learn about playing on challenging pitches.

“Maybe the one thing that’s slightly different is that when I was starting or was growing up, the pitches in domestic cricket tended to turn a little bit more and spun a bit more. To be honest, some of them were under-prepared. But I don’t think the talent is missing, either in spin bowling or in the batting. We just need a little bit more experience in being able to figure out a few more different kinds of shots when we’re challenged with these kinds of pitches. We just need to figure out a couple of more options. It was tough batting for them (Sri Lankans) as well.”

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Focus on Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav’s departure to England




Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav’s departure from Sri Lanka to join the Indian Test squad in England may be delayed after they were sent into isolation for being in close contact with Krunal Pandya, who has tested positive for Covid-19 in the island nation.

The two were expected to leave immediately after the culmination of the white ball series in Sri Lanka. The series ends after Thursday night’s third T20I.

“They will travel to England when the formalities are completed,” an official told IANS.

The Indian Test squad in England has already seen three of the players being ruled out. While opener Subman Gill withdrew due to leg injury and has since returned home, off-spin bowling all-rounder Washington Sundar has hurt his finger, and pace bowler Avesh Khan, who was among the standby players, has suffered fracture his left thumb.

As a result, the selectors have pushed Abhimanyu Easwaran into the main squad and have also called up Shaw and Yadav.

The Test series begins on August 4 in Nottingham.

The second Test will be played on August 12-16 at Lord’s, London, the third Test on August 25-29 in Leeds, the fourth Test between September 2 and 6 at the Oval, London, and the fifth and final Test in Manchester from September 10 to 14.

The Indian team had lost the World Test Championship final to New Zealand last month.

After a three-week break, the Indian players moved to Durham for a warm-up match and training.

The team will travel to Nottingham on August 1.

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PV Sindhu makes it to knockout round with win over Hong Kong’s Cheung




Rio Olympics silver-medallist in badminton, India’s PV Sindhu entered the women’s singles Round of 16 at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Wednesday, overcoming world No. 34 Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong 21-9, 21-16 in her final Group J tie.

Sindhu’s better court coverage and her use of the angles was the key to her victory against the 28-year old Cheung, who lost her sixth consecutive career match to the tall Indian shuttler.

The sixth-seeded Sindhu raced to an 11-5 lead as Cheung fruitlessly tried to push the 26-year old Indian deep into the corners of the forehand backcourt, ending up pushing the shuttles long.

Sindhu, giving almost nothing in the forecourt with superb net play, soon wrapped up the first game 21-9.

Cheung fought back in the second game, moving Sindhu to the far backhand corner and taking to a 7-6 lead. But as the rallies grew longer, Sindhu’s power came to her rescue on several times.

But Cheung’s relentless onslaught kept her neck-and-neck with the Sindhu, who sent a few shuttles wide in trying to end long rallies.

Cheung’s deception continued to keep her in the match, but Sindhu played an superb down-the-line smash from almost the edge of the backhand corner to make it 15-14.

That charged up the Indian to move decisively ahead as she raised the intensity of her game to quickly set up six match points. Sindhu converted on the third, stepping into the net to smash her way to the top of her group and into the knockouts.

Sindhu had defeated Ksenia Polikarpova of Israel 21-7, 21-10 in her opening group match on July 25.

India’s B Sai Praneeth will take on Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands in his final Group D men’s singles match later today. Praneeth is out of contention for the knockouts, having lost to Israel’s Misha Zilberman in straight games in his first group match.

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