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Sunday,26-September-2021

International

Novak Djokovic says demands for Australian Open players ‘misconstrued’

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World number one Novak Djokovic said his demands for tennis players in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open were “misconstrued”.

In an open letter to the Australian public published from hotel quarantine in South Australia, Djokovic defended his “good intentions”, reports Xinhua news agency.

It comes after the eight-time Australian Open champion was widely criticised after issuing a list of demands for players in quarantine to Australian Open chief Craig Tiley, including shorter quarantine periods and “moving as many players as possible” to houses with private tennis courts.

Djokovic said that his letter to Tiley was taken the wrong way.

“My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult and ungrateful,” he said. “This couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

More than 70 players competing in the Australian Open have been confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days after fellow passengers on their charter flights to Melbourne tested positive for Covid-19.

Other players including Djokovic, who will compete in an exhibition tournament in Adelaide before heading to Melbourne, are allowed out of their rooms for five hours per day to train.

“I genuinely care about my fellow players and I also understand very well how the world is run and who gets bigger and better and why,” Djokovic said in his letter.

“I’ve earned my privileges the hard way and for that reason, it is very difficult for me to be a mere onlooker knowing how much every help, gesture and good word mattered to me when I was small and insignificant in the world pecking order.

“Hence, I use my position of privilege to be of service as much as I can where and when needed,” he added.

International

KKR elect to bat first against CSK

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Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bat first against Chennai Super Kings in their IPL 2021 match here on Sunday.

Morgan said the reason he chose to bat first was that he reckoned the pitch may slow down further in the second half of the match.

The Knight Riders were unchanged while the Super Kings brought in Sam Curran for Dwayne Bravo. MS Dhoni said Bravo has been rested as he had picked up a niggle in the Caribbean Premier League.

Playing XI:

Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (capt), Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy.

Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaekwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt) (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood.

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India finish ODI series on a high, snatch 2-wicket win vs Australia

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India finished the ODI leg of the multi-format series on a high with a brilliant two-wicket win — fashioned by a collective team effort — which ended Australia’s unbeaten ODI streak of 26 matches on Sunday. However, Australia won the ODI series 2-1, with the multi-format series’ scoreline reading 4-2.

The third and final ODI in Mackay went down to the wire but this time India held their nerves as they sealed a thrilling two-wicket win with just three balls to spare. Tall India pacer Jhulan Goswami hit the winning runs, lofting it straight for a four.

Chasing a target of 265, India showed poise and power in their response, with the opening pair of Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana putting on 59 for the first wicket. Negotiating the new-ball partnership of Perry and McGrath, Mandhana fell to the off-spin of Gardner for 22 (25), with Annabel Sutherland taking a catch running back from mid-off.

Young Yastika Bhatia continued her fine start to international cricket, ticking things along with Verma, bringing up a 100-run stand in just 19 overs.

At 160/1 after 29 overs and needing just 105, India looked in prime position, before a double blow swung the pendulum back once again. Verma fell to the left-arm orthodox spin of Sophie Molineux for 56, while wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh was dismissed an over later, with Sutherland taking her first wicket.

Bhatia continued her press with captain Mithali Raj, with only a piece of inspired fielder ending her stay at the crease. Top-edging a short ball, Bhatia became Stella Campbell’s first victim in international cricket, only after a diving catch from substitute fielder Molly Strano.

Sutherland doubled her tally by rattling Vastrakar’s (3) stumps, leaving Mithali and No.7 Deepti Sharma needing a run a ball from the last 10 overs. Sutherland struck once again, in her next over, snaring the India skipper, who was bowled for 16.

Rana got a lifeline when she was dropped by Nicola Carey on 11 on the last ball of the 44th over. The equation came down to India requiring 33 runs from the last five overs, with four wickets in hand.

The luck was on Rana’s side as she got another life in the next over. Once again it was Carey, who completed a caught and bowled dismissal, but the delivery was called a no-ball as Carey had overstepped.

McGrath broke the 33-run seventh-wicket stand by snaring Deepti’s wicket for 31. Riding on a lucky run, the onus was on Rana to take her side across the line but she eventually became Carey’s victim in the penultimate over.

Goswami and Meghna Singh made sure there weren’t any more hiccups, as they guided India to a memorable win, that will help boost their confidence for next year’s ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.

Earlier, Meg Lanning won the third consecutive toss for the Australians in the series and elected to bat. Australia’s opening pair of Rachael Haynes and Alyssa Healy looked to keep the heat on in the middle, racing to 40 inside the first eight overs, only for the pressure to be released through the work of veteran quick Jhulan Goswami.

Brief scores: Australia Women 264/9 in 50 overs (A Healy 35, B Mooney 52, A Gardner 67; T McGrath 47; J Goswami 3/37, P Vastrakar 3/46) lost to India Women 266/8 in 49.3 overs (S Verma 56, Y Bhatia 64; A Sutherland 3/30) by 2 wickets.

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Needed someone to stay with Samson and build a partnership: Sangakkara

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Rajasthan Royals director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara rued the fact that there was no one in the side to build a partnership with skipper Sanju Samson, which would have helped the side beat Delhi Capitals in a low-scoring match here on Saturday.

Superb bowling on a slow pitch where batting was difficult helped Delhi Capitals outplay Rajasthan Royals by 33 runs and move to the top of the points table in IPL 2021 at the Shaikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Rajasthan skipper Samson (70 not out, 53 balls) waged a lone battle, keeping the scoreboard moving with singles and twos through small nudges and touches interspersed with trick shots, reverse sweeps, and scoops, hitting boundaries here and there. But in the end that proved too little and too late as Rajasthan fell well short of the target.

“Well, it was a tough one for the skipper (Samson), he was batting so well. All we needed was someone to stay with him and unfortunately losing wickets so regularly, didn’t allow Sanju to cut free early on,” said Sangakkara.

“154 was a great total to limit Delhi Capitals to, [what] we needed to do was not be careless in the first 10 overs. Unfortunately, Delhi came hard at us, they bowled smartly and we weren’t up to it,” the Sri Lankan said.

While the batting didn’t click, Sanga believes it’s not something he is worried about given the quality of the batting line-up. He has backed the players to do well as the tournament goes forward.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about the lower middle-order, they got us out of a lot of trouble in the first half of the IPL this season, and I am sure they will come good, as we go along,” he added.

Sanga further added that RR won’t necessarily be making a change in the eleven because of the defeat. Samson, too, said that a decision on the playing XI will be made when the emotions from the defeat have dried up.

“It is not just about making changes, it is about whoever does play, to kind of stick to the game plan and understand what is happening and assess conditions,” Sanga said.

“I thought the total was chaseable but we lost too many early wickets and weren’t able to get any momentum in our chase. We might consider changes for the next game, but it is too early now. We have to remove all emotion before that,” Samson said.

After their defeat to the table-toppers and Punjab Kings’ win over SRH, RR have slipped to seventh in the table. They will look to bounce back against SRH on September 27 without overthinking this loss, considering there’s barely any time in between.

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