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Monday,27-September-2021

International

Olympics: Achanta Sharath Kamal reaches third round with hard-fought win

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India’s Achanta Sharath Kamal reached the third round of the men’s singles table tennis competition, fighting back from a game down to beat Tiago Apolonia of Portugal 4-2 in 49 minutes at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.

The 39-year-old Kamal, who had a bye in the first round, started off slowly as the Portuguese player raced away with the first game. Sharath got into his rhythm in the second game and went on to win 2-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9 in a well-fought encounter.

The Indian, playing in his fourth Olympics, runs into reigning Olympic and world champion Ma Long of China, the top seed, in the third round.

Kamal, who made his Olympics debut at Athens in2004 and reached the second round, found Apolonia’s serve difficult to handle in the first game. The Portuguese jumped to a nine-point lead and won the game 11-2.

The paddler from Chennai found his rhythm in the second game and unleashed his trademark forehand attack as he won it 11-8. The Indian, who partnered Manika Batra in the mixed doubles but lost in the first round, continued with the momentum in the third, taking a seven-point lead before closing it out 11-5 to take a 2-1 lead.

In the closely-fought fourth game, scores went neck and neck before Kamal netted a forehand to lose 9-11. He recovered well to win the next two games, the fifth using his deceptive forehand shots to win it 11-6 and take a 3-2 lead.

The sixth game was also closely fought as Apolonia made strong attempts to win and take it to the decider. However, Kamal kept his nerve, repelling his opponent’s attacks as he overcame an early deficit to win the game 11-9 and advance to the next round.

Kamal won 30 points on his serve as against 27 by his Portuguese opponent. He lost only 23 points on serve as against 25 by the 34-year-old Apolonia.

It was a good win for Kamal, who won the Oman Open last year just before all sports activities were brought to a standstill by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kamal prepared well for the Asian Olympic Qualifying event despite being confined to his home in Chennai during the nationwide lockdown. And the results are there to see as he registered a crucial win to reach the third round at the Olympics for the first time.

He had lost in the second round in both Athens and Beijing. He did not play in the London Olympics and had lost in the first round in Rio de Janeiro.

International

England cricketer Moeen Ali retires from Test cricket

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 England cricket stalwart, all-rounder Moeen Ali, has decided to call time on his Test match career.

Ali, 34, who made his Test debut back in 2014 and went on to represent England in 64 Test matches, scored a total of 2,914 Test runs, with his highest being an unbeaten 155.

He took 195 Test wickets including 5 five-wicket hauls and scored five Test match centuries during his career.

Discussing his decision on Monday, Ali said, “I’m 34 now and I want to play for as long as I can and I just want to enjoy my cricket. Test cricket is amazing, when you’re having a good day it’s better than any other format by far, it’s more rewarding and you feel like you’ve really earned it.

“I will miss just walking out there with the lads, playing against best in the world with that feeling of nerves but also from a bowling point of view, knowing with my best ball I could get anyone out,” said Ali who is currently in the UAE playing for IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings.

“I’ve enjoyed Test cricket but that intensity can be too much sometimes and I feel like I’ve done enough of it and I’m happy and content with how I’ve done.”

Ali hopes that his Test career will inspire and open the door for other British Muslims to play for England. “It always takes somebody to inspire you or takes somebody to think if he can do it I can and I hope there are a few people out there who are thinking that. I know he wasn’t English but someone like Hashim Amla, when I first saw him, I thought if he can do it I can do it, it does take that little spark.

“I’d love one day in 8-10 years’ time to say Moeen made it easier for me. There have been guys before me who made it easier, so you hope to open the door for someone else.”

Ali thanked his coaches, captains and all of his family for their support during his Test career.

“I have to thank Peter Moores and Chris Silverwood for being my coaches and Peter for giving me my debut. Cookie and Rooty as the captains who I’ve enjoyed playing under and I hope they are happy with how I played.

“My parents are my number one, I feel without their support there is no way I would have made it, every game I played was for them and I know they are really proud of me. My brothers and my sister, on my bad days they’ve been the first to pick me up and my wife and kids, my wife’s sacrifices and the patience she has, I am really grateful for that.

“They have all been amazing on my journey, everything I did I did for them,” said Ali.

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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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