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Tuesday,02-March-2021

International

Mohammed Siraj find of Australia tour, says Ravi Shastri

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India head coach Ravi Shastri on Friday heaped praise on fast bowler Mohammed Siraj who played a crucial role in the team’s remarkable win over Australia in the Border-Gavaskar series.

“Find of the tour for shoring up the bowling attack the way he did – Mohd Siraj. He fought through personal loss, racial remarks and channelised them to find home in the team huddle,” Shastri said in a tweet.

Siraj picked 13 wickets in the three Tests he played, the first of which was his debut, through the course of the series which India won 2-1. During the tour, Siraj lost his father and even faced racial abuse from a section of a crowd during the third Test in Sydney. However, he didn’t let these obstacles affect his performance as played a key role in India’s memorable Test series win over the Tim Paine-led side.

On his return to India on Thursday, the 26-year-old fast bowler said he had no time to relax and would like to focus on the game without thinking too much.

“Whenever I performed I missed my father. In fact, I was thinking of calling him after every good performance but later realised that he was no more. I miss him a lot. May Allah grant him place in paradise,” Siraj said.

The Hyderabad-based bowler said it was an emotional moment for him when he drove straight from the airport to the graveyard and offered flowers on his father’s grave.

On being abused racially by spectators during the third and fourth Tests, in Sydney and Brisbane respectively, Siraj said it made him mentally strong and he did not allow that to impact his game.

“The case (on racial abuse) is going on. Let us see if we get justice or not. I told my captain that some audience is abusing me. The umpire said you can leave the ground but the captain said we will not go as we respect the game of cricket and you may send them out,” he said.

International

Novak Djokovic equals Roger Federer for most weeks as world no. 1

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Novak Djokovic has tied Roger Federer’s all-time record for the most weeks at the top of the men’s tennis rankings.

Djokovic on Monday entered his 310th week at the top of the ATP rankings. The 33-year-old Serbian reclaimed the top spot from Spain’s Rafael Nadal in February 2020.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion grabbed his ninth Australian Open title last month, which ensured he will surpass Federer’s record next week.

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have dominated men’s singles tennis, particularly the Grand Slams, for nearly two decades.

From the 2003 Wimbledon to the 2021 Australian Open, the three players have won 58 out of 70 Grand Slams. They won 18 consecutive slams from the 2005 French Open to Wimbledon in 2009, and 13 consecutive slams from the 2017 Australian Open to the 2020 Australian Open.

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Never going to turn down playing for West Indies: Chris Gayle

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Veteran batsman Chris Gayle has said that he is not going to turn down anything pertaining to West Indies cricket after he left the Pakistan Super League (PSL) to play in the upcoming three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka which starts on March 4.

Gayle, who was part of the T20 World Cup winning squads in 2012 and 2016, said he has set his eyes on winning the trophy a third time this year.

“When I got the call and they asked if I’m willing and interested, I said: ‘Yes, I want to play for West Indies’. That’s where my heart is. I’m never going to turn down anything pertaining to West Indies cricket at this particular time. So I came back from Pakistan to be a part of the set-up leading into the World Cup so we can have a unity within the group, and then hopefully we can win this T20 trophy,” Gayle is quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.

Gayle had said that he would be retiring from ODI cricket after the 2019 World Cup but he later backtracked on that after the end of the tournament. He admitted that his initial plan was to concentrate on franchise cricket.

“I thought about actually walking away from the game and then people said: ‘No, don’t do it, don’t do it. Stay and play as long as possible.’ So I decided I’m actually going to continue playing. I wasn’t actually thinking down this road. I was like, I’m going to play franchise cricket, entertaining people as much as possible, and whatever is left to offer within the game from Chris Gayle, I want to exploit around the world,” said Gayle.

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Mary Kom and Amit Panghal one win away from medal in Spain

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Six-time world champion Mary Kom (51 kg) and World Championship silver medallist Amit Panghal (52 kg) are both one win away from securing a medal at the Boxam International Tournament in Castellon, Spain after they were drawn in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Mary faces Italian Giordana Sorrentino in her opening bout on Wednesday while Panghal will be up against local favourite Gabriel Escobar in his quarterfinal clash. Both pugilists got byes in their respective first round bouts.

Meanwhile, Vikas Krishan (69 kg) also got a bye in the first round and will fight Italy’s Vincenzo Mangiacapre. Ashish Kumar (75 kg), and Sumit Sangwan (81 kg) are also drawn in the quarter-finals because of the lesser entries in their weight classes. Satish (+91 kg), the first super heavyweight from the country to qualify for the Olympics, is also drawn in the quarterfinals of his weight category.

Among women, Jasmine and Manisha are drawn in the 57 kg quarterfinals after getting first round byes. Simranjit Kaur (60 kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69 kg) and Pooja Rani (75 kg), all of whom have qualified for the Olympics, will also be competing in the quarterfinal stage on Wednesday.

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