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Tuesday,18-January-2022

International

NZ to focus on fast bowling in WTC final: Kane Williamson

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Hours before the start of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against India at the Ageas Bowl here, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said his team would be focusing on its main strength – bowling – when it takes on the Virat Kohli-led side on Friday.

In a video posted on the International Cricket Council (ICC) website, Williams said on Friday that, “For us we want to focus on the cricket that we want to play. It’s important to our team to go out there and enjoy the occasion. A number of guys that have been playing well, same bowlers that have been contributing really well for a period of time, which is great,” said Williamson, indicating that the New Zealand fast-bowling battery will come hard at India over the next few days.

“There is some depth in that (bowling) department, which is very important to our team, so there’ll be some tricky but good conversations to have in finalising them (bowlers). There’s been a lot of growth in our side over a period of time, so many challenges along the way every day and the World Test Championship final is a culmination of that,” said Williamson.

During the recently-concluded two-Test series against England, New Zealand bowlers were a handful for the hosts, helping the visitors win 1-0.

While in the first Test at Lord’s, New Zealand batsman Devon Conway slammed a double century and Tim Southee took six first-innings wickets, in the second Test at Edgbaston, Trent Boult and Matt Henry took four and three wickets respectively in the first innings to put England on the back-foot.

The duo returned in the second innings to help New Zealand to an eight-wicket win.

Williamson said New Zealand will take India lightly at its own risk.

“We know in cricket anything can happen. This is the final and both teams need to win, so both teams have prepared as well as they could. It is a one-off in cricket and anything can happen. We’re really looking forward to the match the players are looking forward to getting involved.

“We’ll be realistic, we know India are an incredibly strong side all around the world, and rightly so. (They are) recognised as the best team. You have these (ICC) rankings, all these types of different things. They take slightly different shapes every day, but we know that the challenges are very, very strong against this Indian side,” said Williamson, indicating that ICC Test rankings don’t matter when playing against a strong opposition like India.

New Zealand are the No. 1 Test team in the world, while India are second.

“For us we want to focus on the cricket that we want to play,” added Williamson.

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Want to imbibe qualities of players like Deep Grace Ekka, Lilima Minz: Mariana Kujur

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Young Indian women’s team forward Mariana Kujur feels the Asia Cup, scheduled to commence here on January 21, is a great opportunity to make a mark in the senior side, adding that she would like to learn as much as possible from stalwarts such as Deep Grace Ekka during the tournament.

Defending champions India will open their campaign in the women’s Asia Cup against Malaysia on January 21.

Kujur, who hails from the hockey belt of Sundargarh in Odisha and is a product of the Panposh Academy, said she idolised her senior compatriots Deep Grace Ekka, Lilima Minz and Nimita Toppo who are all products of Odisha’s rich hockey culture.

“I am grateful for this opportunity. The women’s Asia Cup is a prestigious tournament in the international calendar and I want to use this opportunity to perform the role I’ve been assigned and live up to the team’s expectations. The past few weeks in the camp in Bengaluru have been good for me as I worked on understanding the level at which the senior team plays and I believe I have developed good on-field communication with the players particularly in the forward-line and the midfield,” said Kujur.

Having arrived in Muscat on January 16, the team has put in hard yards in order to get used to the conditions and Kujur said the team is upbeat ahead of their first game.

“After arriving in Muscat, we had a few good sessions of hockey. The weather is quite pleasant and we are getting used to the pitch at the Sultan Quboos Sports Complex. It is a beautiful venue and the team is quite excited ahead of the first match.”

Speaking about being part of the same team, which features one of her idols Deep Grace Ekka leading the team as the vice-captain, Mariana said, “Deep Grace is such a cool-headed player. She never lets the opponents get the better of her even in pressure situations. There is a lot that I can learn from her and she’s been quite supportive all along. She always advices me to play my natural game and not feel the pressure of playing for the Senior side. I think that way, all the players have been quite supportive and I am really looking forward to having a good outing here,” she stated.

India are grouped in Pool A along with Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. They will begin their campaign against Malaysia on January 21, and will play Japan on January 23. India will take on Singapore in their last Pool A match on January 24.

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U-19 CWC: Haseebullah Khan’s century gives Pakistan a flying start

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Pakistan got off to a flying start in the Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup, as wicketkeeper-batter Haseebullah Khan smashed a century to help them crush Zimbabwe by 115 runs in a Group C match at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex here on Tuesday (IST).

Flaunting their batting strength, Pakistan put on 315/9, thanks to a Haseebullah 135 (155 balls, 10 fours, 4 sixes). Zimbabwe fell more than a century short in the chase despite an 83-run eighth-wicket partnership between Brian Bennett and Tendekai Mataranyika.

‘Player of the match’ Haseebullah also earned the distinction of posting the highest score of the U-19 World Cup so far. Haseebullah and Irfan Khan combined for a mammoth 192-run third-wicket partnership before the latter was forced to go for 81 from 77 balls after being caught by David Bennett off the bowling of Mcgini Dube.

Zimbabwe continued the fight-back, led by right-arm seamer Alex Falao, who took the wicket of Haseebullah on his way to 58/5 as Pakistan ended with 315/9. Zimbabwe had already produced a score higher than this against Papua New Guinea in their opening game of Group C but faltered in this chase.

Matthew Welch and Steven Saul combined at the top of the order to put on 34 for the first wicket. The next six wickets fell for 77 runs before a timely partnership of 83 runs between Bennett and Mataranyika gave Zimbabwe a glimmer of hope.

But with Bennett’s dismissal they were left needing 121 runs with only 58 balls remaining, Mataranyika followed his partner back to the hutch two balls later before the final wicket of Mcgini Dube fell to hand Pakistan a convincing 115-run victory.

Brief scores: Pakistan 315/9 in 50 overs (Haseebullah Khan 135, Irfan Khan 75; Alex Falao 5/58) beat Zimbabwe 200 in 42.4 overs (Brian Bennett 83; Awais Ali 6/56) by 115 runs.

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Australia’s No.1-ranked T20I woman batter Mooney out of Ashes with broken jaw

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The Australian women’s cricket team suffered a huge setback on Tuesday after their world No.1-ranked T20I batter Beth Mooney was ruled on the eve of the Ashes with a broken jaw.

The 28-year-old Mooney suffered the injury during Australia’s team training. Australia and England are scheduled to play the opening match of the multi-format Ashes when they clash in the first of the three T20Is on January 20 at Sydney.

The T20Is will be followed by a one-off Test and a three match ODI series.

Mooney was hit by a ball under the grill of her helmet during training and will undergo immediate surgery, according to Cricket Australia.

The injury all but rules Mooney out of the series, and the left-hander is also in doubt for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup beginning in March in New Zealand.

Mooney has been a mainstay of Australia’s top order across the formats, boasting the top individual ranking in T20I cricket and two centuries in both international limited-overs formats.

A replacement for Mooney is yet to be named, though Australia have backup with the Australia ‘A’ side joining the Ashes squad for series preparation.

While Rachael Haynes seems a likely option to step into Mooney’s spot, it also opens the door for a number of other ‘A’ team members such as Elyse Villani, Georgia Redmayne, Grace Harris and young gun Phoebe Litchfield.

Mooney’s injury is not Australia’s only issue, with Ellyse Perry’s arrival in Adelaide delayed due to a COVID-19 scare. Molly Strano and Katie Mack, two players in the Australia ‘A’ squad, will also miss action after testing positive for COVID-19.

Australia squad for the Ashes: Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Meg Lanning (captain), Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck.

Australia A squad: Georgia Redmayne (captain), Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Nicole Faltum, Tess Flintoff, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Phoebe Litchfield, Katie Mack, Courtney Sippel, Molly Strano, Elyse Villani, Georgia Voll, Amanda-Jade Wellington.

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